The Yankees are all about home runs, but on Thursday it was all about the one that got away. If they fall one short of setting the season record for homers, Giancarlo Stanton’s near miss might be remembered wistfully.
The Yankees beat the Mariners, 4-3, to complete a three-game sweep at the Stadium. All of the Yankees’ offense came in the first inning, when Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar hit two-run home runs off Mariners ace James Paxton (6-2).
Judge unloaded his 19th homer beyond the scoreboard in right after leadoff batter Clint Frazier singled to right. Stanton, who won Wednesday’s game with a tremendous two-run, walk-off homer to left-centerfield, lofted a fly ball to center that seemed destined to land on the netting above Monument Park.
“Oh, he hit it out all right,’’ winning pitcher Luis Severino said. “That was a home run.’’
No, it wasn’t. Mitch Haniger, who usually plays rightfield, extended his glove above the padded wall and made a catch reminiscent of Mariners Hall of Fame centerfielder Ken Griffey. Even though Andujar would hit his 10th homer after Gleyber Torres’ single, it felt a bit deflating that Stanton had been denied his 19th.
“I knew I caught it,’’ Haniger was quoted in the Seattle Times. “But when my arm hit the wall, I wanted to make sure it was still in my glove. I couldn’t feel if it popped out or not.’’
Every Yankee, it seemed, thought it was gone — except Stanton. “No, it wasn’t,’’ he said hurriedly before heading into the off-limits area for the media.
Stanton’s teammates disagreed.
“Everybody thinks it’s going,’’ Torres said. “The guy just made a great catch.’’
Andujar said, “I think it’s gone because he hit it good.’’
Andujar’s homer was an opposite-field shot down the line in right. “When I go to home plate, I try to hit the ball hard,’’ he said. “I don’t think home run or anything specifically.’’
Aaron Boone felt for Stanton. “Kind of a bummer for G.,’’ he said. “He had two balls on the nose today [a hard liner to left in the seventh along with two strikeouts] and gets a home run taken back. Tip your hat to Haniger, he made a great play, real fluid.’’
Severino (11-2) acknowledged not having his best stuff as he allowed three runs in 5 2⁄3 innings. Kyle Seager reached him for a two-run homer in the second. When Ben Gamel drove in the Mariners’ third run, Severino was lifted for David Robertson. He was followed by Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, who earned his 22nd save.
“Every time you’re not going to have a great game,’’ Severino said. “It’s nice that guys back you up with home runs like that.’’
The Yankees (50-22) are a season-high 28 games over .500. They have seven players with at least 10 home runs and have 122 homers. The 1997 Mariners set the record with 264.
But Boone doesn’t appreciate having his team’s offense be labeled as home run or nothing.
“I think it’s a silly argument, I really do,’’ he said. “Does it bother me? That does bother me because if a great pitcher shuts us down, it’s because a great pitcher shut us down. He can shut down the team that doesn’t hit home runs, too. I mean if [Justin] Verlander has a good outing against you or Paxton shut us down, it’s going to be because we didn’t hit homers? And we strike out? I think it’s a silly argument really, on its face.’’
Neil Walker said the reality is the Yankees are not a station-to-station team.
“You don’t really see us try to do a lot on the basepaths,’’ he said. “In reality, it’s doubles and homers. It’s been pretty good for us to this point. ‘’