OAKLAND — Giancarlo Stanton didn’t have time for narrative or analysis of what happened with the Yankees while he was on the injured list. On Tuesday afternoon, Stanton only had time to prepare for his return to the lineup.
“We will turn it around. We will be fine. I think there’s plenty of time to change what’s going on now,” Stanton said. “We’ll be fine.”
The Yankees should be in a better situation in this West Coast swing with a strengthened lineup. Although they are 11-18 in their last 29, they have won three straight, including beating the Blue Jays on Sunday. and then sweeping the Mets. And on Thursday night when they begin a 10-game road trip against the A’s at the Coliseum, the Bombers expect Stanton to return to the lineup for the first time since July 24.
And it makes a Yankees lineup that struggled for runs in the second half immediately better. Since Stanton left for Illinois with left Achilles tendinitis, the Bombers have averaged two fewer runs per game. The slump that came after they posted the best record in baseball for the first half of the season was dramatic. The Bombers went from having the best record in the American League and a 15.5 lead in the AL East to entering Thursday 7.5 games ahead of the Rays and 3.5 games behind the Astros in the race for a postseason seed.
The threat of a 32-year-old shortstop just improves the Bombers’ lineup, makes it more likely that Aaron Judge will see better at-bats, and adds depth.
In 80 games this season, Stanton is hitting .228/.309/.498 with an .807 OPS with 24 home runs and 61 RBI.
Stanton understands the urgency. He will DH when he returns and then return to pitching for the summer.
“I just want to jump in there and get some games under my belt to appreciate it better,” Stanton said. “But I help the team better when I’m on the field. I guess we’re more dynamic, that’s why [I’ll be out there] as soon as possible.”
One reason to think the Yankees will be fine is the return of Stanton, but also appearance of Andrei Benintendi in the last four games.
In his last four games, Benintendi is 7-for-14 with three runs scored, two doubles and a home run. That home run was a monster hit into the second deck in right field, the blast the Yankees needed to snap a three-game losing streak and start their current winning streak. He was involved in all three of the Yankees’ victories. It also makes the warehouse more dangerous.
“Like I said, when we signed him, I was looking forward to getting him here because he’s a guy who puts the ball in play. He’s a guy who shows up in big moments. He’s been making big plays and we’ve seen that the last few games,” Judge said of Benintendi. “It’s just another tool that we’re lucky to have, that’s for sure.”
Also, the judge seems to be back on track.
After a nine-game home run drought, Judge was back on pace to break the American League record of 61 home runs set by Roger Morris in 1961. During that slump, Judge hit just .133/.278/.167 with a .445 OPS and 12 strikeouts. In the last two games, Judge is 4-for-8 with two homers, three RBI and two strikeouts.
These home runs are important not only for the umpire’s personal achievements, but also for the offense. The Bombers are based on power and it’s a pretty simple formula; if they hit homers, they win more. When the Yankees don’t hit a home run, they are just 10-21 this season.
“I think it’s hard to have a little bit of swagger when you keep losing games and losing streaks and not playing your brand of baseball,” Judge said. “But I think the arrogance has always been there. I think it took a little reminding of who we are and what type of baseball we play and getting back to basics. We got it back.”