The iconic Target logo nearly became a bull’s-eye for Giancarlo Stanton on Wednesday night.
The first of Stanton’s two home runs — and the second of the Yankees’ four long balls during a 9-6 victory over the Twins — traveled 423 feet to straightaway center field and landed somewhere in the vicinity of the hard-to-reach logo at Target Field. Stanton’s five RBIs were his first in exactly a month, ending a 12-game drought dating to May 9.
“He’s a very dynamic player and a lot of it is in your face,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Stanton. “You watch him step in the box as a very physical guy with the type of strength that very few people in any professional sport have.”
Aaron Judge homered as the game’s second batter and Miguel Andujar homered for the fifth time in eight games, but Stanton delivered the three-run blast upon which the Yankees have become so reliant. Judge doubled leading off the third and Gleyber Torres walked in front of Stanton, who caught a flat 0-2 slider over the middle of the plate and launched it toward the luxury club seats above the grassy batter’s eye.
“He’s the kind of guy that does things in a hurry,” Baldelli said. “He’s looking for a pitch to hit. He’s swinging. He can look bad on a pitch or two and then immediately turn around the course of a game single-handedly. That’s why he is who he is.”
Maybe the Yankees go as the streaky Stanton goes?
Stanton was 2-for-5 with a pair of singles in the series opener Tuesday. All three of his hits Wednesday were off Randy Dobnak, including his second home run, also on an 0-2 pitch, which just cleared the 23-foot-high wall in right-center field.
“They were mistakes with two strikes,” Stanton said of his home-run pitches. “Staying through the ball and not rolling those pitches over.”
The Yankees were 8-4 from April 23 through May 6, when Stanton hit .481 with a 1.413 OPS, six home runs and 11 RBIs across 52 at-bats. Stanton’s bat cooled in the days that followed and he was shelved from May 14-27 because of a quad strain. When he returned, his power did not. Stanton entered Thursday hitting .138 with 12 strikeouts in 29 at-bats over the past nine games.
“My balance gets thrown off sometimes even if I stay playing,” Stanton said. “Sometimes you come back and you feel good right away. Sometimes you have to stay in your legs and through the ball a little bit better. I just have to continue that.”
More frustrating for Yankees fans, who rained boos on him during last week’s homestand flop, is the $325 million slugger’s inability to play more than three straight days despite working as the designated hitter. His return coincided with a 2-6 Yankees stretch.
“You plan out a tentative week and go day-by-day how things are going,” Stanton said. “As we get further away from me not playing for a couple weeks, I’ll be able to be out there more and not have to take down days.”
The Yankees are 6-3 when Stanton homers, countering the popular conspiracy theory that too many of his homers come late in losses.
Before Wednesday, he had one career home run in 15 games against the Twins — his fewest against any opponent other than the Marlins, his longtime team.