Imagine being allowed to stink at your job — for a brief amount of time, at least — in peace because your company performs well anyway.
(Wait, that might hit too close to home for many of you. Come to think of it, maybe that hits too close to home for me.)
To be fair, Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t stunk on the global scale as much as he has underperformed vis-à-vis his own high standards. Whereas the Yankees’ other power-hitting G.S., Gary Sanchez, has stunk on virtually any scale you can imagine.
Stanton and Sanchez blasted back-to-back homers to start the fifth inning on Saturday, sealing the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the lowly Rays at Yankee Stadium, providing a temporary respite from their struggles and reminding the baseball universe once again, not that such a reminder was needed, of this roster’s sky-high talent level. Warning everyone, really, this team carries the potential to be even better than its current 46-20 record and certainly can sustain upcoming setbacks with the hopes that these two proven performers progress back to their normal levels.
“Everyone knows what we’re capable of when we put it together out there” said Stanton, whose 16th homer cleared the left field wall.
Said Sanchez, whose 13th homer went to straightaway center field, through an interpreter: “That’s what happens when you have a good team and good guys around you. Sometimes you’re going to have a player or two going through a rough time and you need everybody else to help out. … That’s what baseball is about: up and down. The good thing is we’re winning games.”
Three in a row, 13-3 in their past 16 and 37-11 since their modest 9-9 start to the season. The Yankees’ search for a frontline starting pitcher to partner with Luis Severino for October will occupy our attention until it happens (or doesn’t, by the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline), yet this club just keeps steamrolling opponents here in the regular season. It has done so even though two of its most important offensive players have fallen well short of projections.
Stanton now owns a .242/.317/.480 slash line, giving him his career-worst on-base percentage, and tying his 2013 slugging percentage for a nadir. This, as you know, was predictable, going by the rich history of guys needing time to adjust to New York after starting their career elsewhere. That Stanton faltered in his first trips to the plate Saturday, both with teammates in scoring position — giving him a .206/.299/.317 slash line in 63 such at-bats — best reflects his struggles even on a good day.
Nevertheless, the slugger agreed, when the team wins despite your woes, it’s “much better. When you don’t contribute every night and you’re able to knock out series, knock out wins over and over again, it helps.”
Sanchez, meanwhile, hadn’t gone deep since May 19, when he did so twice in Kansas City against the Royals. With a bases-clearing double in Friday night’s 5-0 blanking of the Rays, he is showing signs of life, though he still carries a lousy .190/.293/.438 line in the wake of his brutal past 3 ¹/₂ weeks (.095/.219/.175 since May 22).
“Yeah, I’m definitely feeling better, and now it’s just [necessary] to keep it going,” said Sanchez, who caught Severino in another brilliant mound outing. “Keep getting one hit, two hits, and just help the team.”
“The bottom line is both of those guys have had a significant hand in us winning, also,” Aaron Boone said of Stanton and Sanchez. “So this game will get you. This game will humble you. It’s hard. But if you’re shaking hands at the end of the day, that’s how I always looked at it as a player. It made it a lot easier to kind of power through and grind through as you make adjustments and try and continue to lock it in.”
Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ most consistent hitter this season, contributed a pair of doubles and said afterward, “There’s still room for improvement all around.”
It starts with his two fellow righty-hitting behemoths, who eventually should pick it up and give others the flexibility to stink, too.
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