It was only a matter of time before Giancarlo Stanton turned the boos to cheers at Yankee Stadium.
That moment finally came on Friday, when the New York Yankees slugger ended a 16-day home run drought by going deep in their 8-5 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The two-run blast against veteran right-hander Marco Estrada gave New York a lead in the third inning, and had Yankee Stadium as loud as its been during a cold and frustrating April.
Giancarlo Stanton gets a loud ovation from the fans in the RF seats as he takes his position.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 21, 2018
Stanton’s early season struggles had become one of baseball’s biggest storylines, mostly because of the reaction he’d received following some tough moments in his new home ballpark.
It started in the Yankees home opener, when despite homering twice during their season-opening series in Toronto, Stanton was booed heavily after striking out five times.
The boos continued into New York’s current homestand, especially when he struggled against his former team, the Miami Marlins, during a brief two-game series.
Stanton entered play on Friday hitting .105/.209/.184 in his first nine games at Yankee Stadium as a member of the Yankees. He’d homered there once against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 4, but struck out 20 times in his other 37 at-bats. That homer had remained his most recent home run for 11 games. Now that he’s shed that burden, perhaps his power stroke will return in full force.
Not that anyone needs a reminder, but Stanton is capable of going on tears that make everyone question whether he’s human or a home run-hitting machine. He dominated MLB with a league-leading 59 homers last season, and for him it might only take one good week to get on that pace again.
We know Yankees fans are itching for that to happen. The negative reaction mainly stems from expectations that were set at an astronomical level. He might not reach them, but he should still make Yankees fans plenty happy by season’s end.
While Yankees fans hope Stanton is turning the corner, they remain frustrated with starting pitcher Sonny Gray. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed five runs on five hits and four walks while striking out no one in 3.1 innings in Friday’s disappointing loss. It’s the third time in four starts that Gray hasn’t been able to complete four innings.
Like Stanton, a lot more is expected from Gray this season. It’s a reminder baseball is never a smooth ride, but the now 9-9 Yankees have to figure better days are coming for some of their most important players.
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