Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton thrives in the field and at home plate
HOUSTON — For the first time in nearly three months, Giancarlo Stanton finally returned to the field for Game 1 of the ALCS.
The Yankees slugger started in left field against the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Astros, his first start on the field since July 21 before taking care of Achilles and foot injuries.
After a few shaky moments early on, Stanton got a fourth-inning header when he ran to the warning lane and stretched his left arm to hook a line at Yuli Gurriel’s bat. Stanton grabbed a few feet in front of the wall, then braced himself by reaching out and knocking out a piece of the scoreboard on the left field wall.
« Right off the bat I’m like ‘No way’ and then he plays the game, » manager Aaron Boone said. « So it was really good to see him move. »
In the first inning, Jeremy Pena drilled a line drive to left center field that went beyond the reach of Stanton, who didn’t make a big jump on it.
But Stanton also continued to produce at home plate, going 2-for-4 with a brace.
« I thought he had good sticks all night, » Boone said. « G is locked up there in the fight, and certainly encouraging. »
Stanton’s move out of the DH spot got Matt Carpenter his first playoff start against Astros ace Justin Verlander. It won’t be a permanent move to the outfield for Stanton — especially when the series returns to Yankee Stadium, which features a tougher left field than Minute Maid Park — but laying it out to play in the field offers the Yankees greater alignment flexibility with left field and shortstop likely to be in flux throughout the ALCS.
« It’s something that I really started putting on the G board a few days ago, » manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday before Game 1. « I actually thought about it for the game 4 in Cleveland. I talked to him about it a bit the night before after Game 3, and then I finally decided, kind of, I told him the morning of Game 4, I just said, ‘Let’s do- Game 1 in Houston.’ That’s what makes the most sense, in ballpark terms and all.
« He can’t wait to do it. »
Aaron Hicks had started the last two games for the ALDS in left field, but suffered a season-ending left knee sprain in Tuesday’s Game 5 against the Guardians when he collided with the stop- short Oswaldo Cabrera for a bloop shot to the left.
With the Astros starting southpaw Framber Valdez in Game 2, Carpenter is expected to return to the bench with Stanton returning to DH and Cabrera to left field.
Boone didn’t rule out Stanton, who got pregame work in left field ahead of Wednesday’s ALCS opener, playing in the field when the series heads to the Bronx, though that’s a more difficult question due to the dimensions of the stadium.