TODAY'S PAPER
78° Good Afternoon
78° Good Afternoon
SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Giancarlo Stanton a real fence-buster

New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton runs

New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton runs on his three-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning of an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Giancarlo Stanton fought the wall, and the wall lost.

Such is the advantage of being 6-6 and 245 pounds.

In the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 8-5 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, after Stanton barreled into the rightfield scoreboard on what turned out to be a failed attempt to rob Nick Markakis of a home run that brought Atlanta within a run, he eventually climbed back to his feet and stayed in the game.

The wall didn’t fare as well. A Yankee Stadium staffer soon arrived to pick up a long piece that Stanton’s collision had knocked free. That had to be carried off the field.

Stanton? For the most part, he appeared to be OK. A trainer was dispatched to give him a quickie concussion check — something the Yankees failed to do with Brett Gardner a week earlier — and Stanton apparently got enough of the questions correct.

“Just what inning is it, how many outs there are, what day is it,” he said. “I didn’t know any of them.”

We assume he was joking. He did crash into the wall pretty hard, wrenching his left shoulder along the top as Markakis’ fly ball sailed into the seats.

A night earlier, in the Yankees’ 5-3 loss to the Braves, Aaron Judge went airborne not far from that spot and nearly snatched Ronald Acuña Jr.’s tiebreaking homer in the 11th inning. Instead, it nicked off the top of his glove.

Stanton thought he had a decent chance at this one and went into the wall aggressively. When Boone saw him crumpled on the warning track, he sent out the trainer, a prompt response that didn’t occur after Gardner’s collision last week in Philadelphia.

That night at Citizens Bank Park, Boone repeatedly was asked why Gardner wasn’t checked out more thoroughly, so his swift action Tuesday avoided a similar interrogation. “Just making sure,” he said. “Just trying to stay vigilant with that stuff.”

This time, however, there was no reason to doubt Stanton’s ability to function, because he was tested immediately. Moments after the trainer left, Kurt Suzuki launched another long drive in the same direction. Stanton had to give chase again, then reached up for an over-the-shoulder catch — only a few feet from the wall — that quelled the Braves’ momentum.

Later, Stanton was able to laugh about the unusual sequence of events, no doubt because he was able to make the difficult play. “You’ve just got to use your other shoulder,” he said, smiling.

And Stanton wasn’t done, either. With Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Yankees tried to hold on to their 6-5 lead, he gave the Yankees some much- appreciated insurance by lofting a high fly ball toward the rightfield corner that snaked inside the foul pole and landed in the first row. The fan who caught the ball was positioned behind the 314 sign, but the Statcast distance was 353 feet, or about the distance of a solid 9-iron shot, with a slight fade.

The Bronx special was No. 20 for Stanton, who became only the 11th player to hit at least 20 home runs in each of his first nine major-league seasons. Since 2000, only two others have accomplished the feat — Mark Teixeira (2003-12) and Albert Pujols (2001-12).

On a more short-term view, Stanton is batting .390 (16-for-41) with four doubles, two homers and six RBIs in his last 10 games.

Stanton played exclusively in rightfield for the Marlins but has had to switch to leftfield or DH because of the presence of Judge. Tuesday night was his 15th start in right — Judge was the DH — and the Yankees’ ability to deploy a pair of power forwards to defend the smallest piece of real estate is a hidden strength that visiting teams don’t possess. Stanton and Judge essentially are rim-protectors, and the Braves barely managed to squeeze a few homers past them the last two nights.

“They’re really good outfielders,” Boone said.

Having the build of linebackers doesn’t hurt, either. Judge has endured a number of wall collisions in the past year and a half — one that led to offseason shoulder surgery — and Stanton has shown the same fearlessness when it comes to reeling in fly balls.

That type of aggressive play always comes with a concussion risk, but both Stanton and the Yankees were fortunate to dodge that bullet in Tuesday night’s win.

The wall wasn’t as lucky.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports