BOSTON — Maybe nothing good can come from the kind of hurting the Red Sox put on the Yankees Tuesday night. Maybe looking for silver linings out of the wrong end of a 14-1 pounding is silly at best, stupid at worst. Maybe.
Still, it is worth noting that in his final two at-bats Tuesday night, Giancarlo Stanton hit the ball hard twice, got two base hits, a single and a double, one of them off Chris Sale. Maybe that’s just a blip, a meaningless couple of lines in a dreadful drubbing. Or maybe it’s something else.
The Yankees, of course, are rooting for the latter. Because that’s really the only way they can root at this point.
“I felt much better, saw the ball better, I feel like I made good progress today,” Stanton said. “We have two more games here and hopefully I can pick up where I left off today.”
The Yankees had tried to minimize this as much as possible, of course.
“I want him to get jump-started because I know what a difference-maker he is,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone had said earlier in the day, before the beating had begun. “But I don’t really worry about it. I know what his behind-the-scenes work is. I know how committed he is.
“For a guy like Giancarlo, he’s going to have weeks where he gets a little out of whack and it doesn’t necessarily look great.”
Now, the week in question had been something a little bit out of the ordinary and a little more concerning than that, with two games in which he struck out five times and began to hear a few early boos from the Yankee Stadium faithful.
Stanton lugged 20 strikeouts with him in 42 at-bats walking into this game, and at first it did not go well: He struck out in the top of the first inning, and he struck out in the top of the third inning, both times against Sale, both times looking overmatched (though that hardly puts him in a lonely bunker when it comes to Sale), although Boone did say: “I thought he looked on pitches more” even though he fanned.
That made it 22 whiffs in 44 at-bats, a rate that would make Reggie Jackson blush, a pace that makes Jackson look like Ichiro.
And that’s what made Stanton’s sharp single the other way in the fifth and the rope of a double he pulled in the seventh so meaningful. The Yankees have insisted for days that they knew what they were getting in Stanton, who has been streaky throughout his career but gets so raging hot during the hot streaks that you learn to live happily with the cold ones.
“We always grind away at how to help our guys get started,” Boone said. “I’m always thinking about ways we can put our guys in a better position to succeed, but I also do feel like it’s really early and in the grand scheme of things I’m not worried.”
Maybe those two swings will allow him to be even less worried, because maybe they are a harbinger of warmer days ahead (with Stanton’s bat, if not with the Antarctic spring that continues to follow the Yankees around).
Sale is in his own category. It will be interesting to see what Stanton does Wednesday, when David Price (who has been virtually untouchable so far this year) gets the ball, since Price is left-handed and prone to the long ball and there is the small matter of the Green Monster lurking beyond Price’s right shoulder.
If Stanton is right, this is the kind of game you expect to see him break out. He wouldn’t declare himself officially right just yet. But he sounded like he might really be headed in that general vicinity, if nothing else.
“I needed to settle down, it’s not that I was trying too hard,” he said. “I need to let some consistency creep in. Get a good pitch to hit. And hit it.”
Simple game sometimes. Made much simpler when you put the ball in play every now and again.