Sports

G’s Monster: Stanton’s slam downs Red Sox

BOSTON — Slugger Giancarlo Stanton might have saved the New York Yankees‘ season with one massive swing Saturday night.

With the Yankees down 2-1 in the eighth inning to the archrival Boston Red Sox and the bases loaded with two outs, Stanton delivered a 452-foot blast over the Green Monster to secure New York’s 5-3 comeback win, stunning the sellout crowd at Fenway Park.

Stanton hunted a first-pitch 94 mph fastball by Darwinzon Hernandez for the second go-ahead grand slam by a Yankee in the 8th inning or later against Boston in the last 50 years (Mark Teixeira in 2016). The victory, which was the Yankees’ 41st comeback win this year, put them back into a tie with the Red Sox for the first wild-card spot with seven games left in the regular season.

“You gotta be ready for the fastest bolt there, first pitch,” said Stanton, who now has 33 home runs on the season, 17 of them since August 3. “Great feeling; a lot of emotions going on. Just glad I was able to do it, compress everything and be on time for the fastball and something good happened.”

Stanton called seeing the ball fly over the Green Monster one of the highlights of his now four seasons in pinstripes. Stanton’s homer was his 56th career 450-foot homer, which is more than twice as many as any other player since 2010 (Nelson Cruz is second with 26). As a Yankee, Stanton now has a .288 batting average with 8 home runs, 30 RBIs and a .899 OPS in 41 games against the Red Sox.

“Look at the back of the baseball card, we’re talking about a great, fearsome hitter,” said manager Aaron Boone. “And with age, he’s gotten more and more mature and more and more understanding of his process and his game plan. He’s just in a great place right now. I’m looking forward to watching it back on replay a few times tonight. It was, in this atmosphere, in this environment, just to take the air out of the building with one of those, that’s up there for me in the ones I’ve seen G hit.”

The eighth inning started with two quick outs for reliever Tanner Houck with the Red Sox holding on to a one-run lead. Speedy outfielder Brett Gardner then worked a walk and went on to steal second base before Houck issued a base on balls to Aaron Judge. Manager Alex Cora then called upon the lefty-lefty match-up of Hernandez against first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Stanton’s grand slam.

“Just a lot of great at-bats, winning at-bats to set that situation up. And then G just absolutely going up there hunting one spot and did not miss it,” Boone added. “The inning hinges around, ‘come on, get on, Riz.’ Once they go to the bullpen, bring the lefty in, it’s like, ‘if Riz can work his way on, of course, Giancarlo’s coming up with bases loaded’ … that pops into your head. But for him to go up and really just stick it on that first one. …Didn’t waste any time, got after it from Jump Street and nailed it.”

The Yankees got another solid start from Nestor Cortes Jr., but had to go to the bullpen early when the Red Sox threatened the crafty lefty in the fifth inning. After Mike King and Lucas Luetge worked in and out of trouble through the next two innings, Luis Severino came in for his second bullpen appearance since his return from Tommy John surgery. Severino pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four batters to record his first win in two years (Sept. 22, 2019 vs. Toronto).

“It was awesome. It was big, man,” said Boone of Severino’s performance. “Two innings there, ends up going through their big boys, too. Just a great job by him. Thought he threw the ball really well. … You could tell he relished in being out there in this kind of atmosphere and this kind of game with a lot on the line. Another huge step for him in making his way back.”

The Yankees have now won five games in a row, and seven of their last ten against the Red Sox after starting the season against them 0-7. But the true winners Saturday night were the Tampa Bay Rays, who with the combination of the Red Sox’s loss and a 7-3 win over Miami, clinched their second consecutive AL East title.

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