Tormented by David Ortiz during the last decade, it was only a matter of time before the Yankees found their own nuclear option after Big Papi’s retirement, and Giancarlo Stanton is quickly developing into a bona fide Boston nemesis during his short tenure in pinstripes.
It was Stanton who again wobbled the Red Sox early Wednesday night with a two-run double, padding his already impressive stats against them, before the Yankees piled on during a wild eighth inning to finish the 9-6 comeback win in the Bronx.
After Stanton presumably had won back New Yorkers for good, securing their affections with another big night against the Sox, the stadium shook like October in the eighth for Brett Gardner’s two-run triple and a towering two-run homer to dead center by Aaron Judge — all of it off Boston closer Craig Kimbrel, no less.
Stanton’s only been a Yankee for a short period of time, but he’s smart enough to realize that smashing the Red Sox can make him a hero in a hurry. Although Stanton didn’t have to replace a legend — like Didi Gregorius did — he’s been striving to live up to his own MVP reputation.
With the damage Stanton has done to the Red Sox, he’s making progress, and his first-inning double Wednesday off Boston starter Rick Porcello gave him some pretty respectable numbers against the Yankees’ bitter rival. Through the first five games, it’s fair to say Stanton is becoming a veritable Sox nemesis, hitting .526 (10-for-19) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and seven RBIs.
Stanton put the Yankees on his back in Tuesday’s game, smacking two solo home runs in the 3-2 victory over the Red Sox. It was his third multi-homer game since putting on pinstripes and No. 31 overall, the second-highest total through 1,021 career games, behind only Ralph Kiner (35). Stanton lined a high fastball from Sox starter Drew Pomeranz over the leftfield fence, then later took him over the wall in right.
That’s what Brian Cashman brought him to the Bronx to do, and once Stanton begins destroying games on a regular basis, as anticipated, the Yankees become even more frightening to opposing pitchers. Now that Stanton’s adjustment period seems to be coming to an end, we should get to see this lineup operating at maximum efficiency — even as the Yankees wait for the return of Greg Bird from the disabled list.
Until then, the Yankees are scary enough with Stanton’s revival. As imposing as Stanton’s 6-6 frame is, he also makes a very large target. And by the fifth inning Wednesday, Porcello chose to throw him a pitch in one of the few places Stanton couldn’t crush it — directly into his front shoulder.
This rivalry left Fenway Park on a short fuse after a benches-clearing brawl in April. On this night, however, Porcello just seemed tired of dealing with Stanton, who had punished him again in the third inning with the laser double.
While the Stanton-Judge tandem gives the Yankees twin wrecking balls, the reigning National League MVP drew plenty of unwelcome attention as the strikeouts began piling up during the month of April. That created an unthinkable environment in the Bronx, where Stanton was booed in the home opener, a silly practice that far outlived what we thought was possible for such a star player.
Rather than bristle at the boobirds, however, Stanton took a stoic approach and accepted it as the Bronx version of tough love. For Stanton, all it took was a few loud whacks to silence the jeers, and beating the Red Sox is the surest way to win over New Yorkers, wherever you’re from.
Giancarlo Stanton has responded quite well in his first six Yankees-Red Sox games: