The results are uneven so far for the New York Yankees, but not for Giancarlo Stanton.
With two homers in as many games, Stanton hopes to continue his hot start Sunday afternoon when the Yankees visit the Washington Nationals for the rubber game of a three-game series.
“I feel locked in,” Stanton told reporters after Saturday’s game. “I have a good approach, and I’ve got to continue that.”
Stanton put up solid numbers two years ago, when he batted .266 with 38 homers and 100 RBIs in 158 games in his first season with the Yankees, but injuries have been the major storyline for the slugger since the start of last season. He was limited to 59 at-bats in 18 games in 2019, got reinjured during the postseason and then injured his calf early this spring training.
The calf injury would have caused Stanton to miss the first few weeks of the 2020 season had it begun on schedule, but with the extra time to recover in the pandemic-induced delay to the season, he now looks completely healthy. In Thursday’s 4-1 win, he homered off Max Scherzer and drove in three runs. In the Yankees’ 9-2 loss Saturday, Stanton’s 483-foot homer off Erick Fedde raised plenty of eyebrows.
“He looks great,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I feel like he’s in such a good frame of mind. I think he feels great physically, and then he’s putting together a really good game plan and getting himself in some good counts.”
Stanton has 36 career homers against the Nationals, and the next pitcher he will face is Patrick Corbin, who begins the second year of a six-year, $140 million deal. The Yankees pursued Corbin following the 2018 season but were reportedly only willing to offer five years.
Like many pitchers, Corbin has struggled at times against Stanton, who is 6-for-16 (.375) with two homers against him.
In his first year with Washington, Corbin was 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 33 starts. He finished with 238 strikeouts after getting 246 in his final season for Arizona, and his 202 innings were the second-most of his career.
Corbin prepared for this season by allowing two runs and six hits over five innings in an exhibition game against Baltimore on Tuesday.
Corbin actually faced the Yankees on March 12 in an exhibition game before the sport shut down for four months. His only regular-season appearance against the Yankees was a seven-inning, no-decision for Arizona on April 18, 2013.
Corbin will be pitching after the Nationals overcame five errors by hitting three homers Saturday. Victor Robles homered, drove in four runs and had three hits while Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Taylor also connected.
“That’s what these guys do,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “They love being around each other. They know we’re under different circumstances. But they’re going to pick each other up.”
Robles’ big night occurred as Juan Soto remains on the injured list after testing positive for COVID-19.
“He’s definitely missed big-time here,” Robles said through a translator “But individually, we all have a role. We all know what our job is. It’s just a matter of doing your job and helping the team win, any way you can.”
The Yankees did not announce their starting pitching plans for Sunday but will likely use the opener in the spot normally taken by Masahiro Tanaka, who is recovering from a concussion suffered in a simulated game on July 4 when Stanton hit a line drive off his head.
The opener could be Chad Green, who did it 15 times last season and went 0-1 with a 3.72 in those appearances.
–Field Level Media