Yankees need more games like this from their veterans

The plot of the Yankees’ game Saturday was borrowed from those movies in which a plane that has been presumed lost suddenly materializes and lands while missing passengers stream off the aircraft no worse for the wear from the experience.

When NYY27 touched down in The Bronx after having spent weeks in parts unknown, lo and behold there was Giancarlo Stanton and there was Josh Donaldson and there was DJ LeMahieu and there, surprise, surprise, was the offense. They spit out eight hits, five for extra bases, including three home runs, in a 6-3 victory over the Cubs.

It would have seemed kind of an ordinary hazy, lazy day of summer except it was anything but. The Yankees had been limited to 14 hits — three for extra bases — over the course of the three-game losing streak they toted into Saturday. It was anything but ordinary for a team whose production has been scraping the bottom of the AL barrel since Aaron Judge went down in Los Angeles on June 3.

Did someone say barrel? Stanton sure did when he blasted Drew Smyly’s 1-0 sinker into orbit with two out in the bottom of the first, sending the ball crashing into the façade of the third deck at the Stadium, 447 feet away. It had an exit velocity of 118.1 mph that made it the third-hardest-hit ball of the MLB season behind ones hit by Matt Olson (118.6) and Jake Burger (118.2).

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Gerrit Cole, who was masterful through 7 ¹/₃ innings of three-hit ball before he ran into trouble in the seventh.

Giancarlo Stanton belts a two-run homer, his second of the game, during the fifth inning of the Yankees' 6-3 loss to the Cubs.
Giancarlo Stanton belts a two-run homer, his second of the game, during the fifth inning of the Yankees’ 6-3 loss to the Cubs.
Jason Szenes for the NY Post

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Aaron Boone, the manager.

“Over the years I’ve got some good ones, but that was pretty nice,” said Stanton. “It was good to put us up.”

The Yankees (49-41) have one game to go before the All-Star break and are tied with the Blue Jays for the last AL wild-card spot. Cole has been an ace. Carlos Rodon’s performance Friday in his debut in pinstripes provides hope for a rotation that has been held together through the first half by bailing wire, chewing gum and Cole.

“He’s one of the game’s greats. He’s been a rock, a model of consistency for us,” Boone said of Cole, who heads to Seattle with a chance to start for the American League All-Star team after a 9-2 (2.85 ERA) first half. “He’s a great, great pitcher.”

But even if the rotation spins, the Yankees won’t go anywhere meaningful if the big names packing the lineup continue to sputter, and that applies whether or not Judge is able to provide meaningful at-bats for the club down the stretch. There is nowhere to hide for the heart of the order that has put up ghastly numbers in Judge’s absence.

Josh Donaldson celebrates with teammates after belting at a solo homer in the second inning of the Yankees' win.
Josh Donaldson celebrates with teammates after belting at a solo homer in the second inning of the Yankees’ win.
Jason Szenes for the NY Post

Stanton, in his sixth year as a Yankee, has left as light an imprint on the landscape as humanly possible for a fellow who goes 6-foot-6, 245 pounds. He has shown flashes of uncommon power, but they have been obscured by his repetitive and lengthy stays on the injured list. He has too often been an afterthought.

“He’s as unique as they come,” Boone said of Stanton, who poked one off the right-field foul pole with a man on base in the fifth inning for his second homer of the afternoon to extend the lead to 6-1. “You’ve just got to ride through it and when he locks it in he can go for a while.

“That first ball, wow, I’ve never seen that.”

Stanton, who came off a lengthy stay on the IL during the series in which Judge was injured, entered Saturday with a slash line of .151/.240/.256 with two homers and eight RBI since his return. He also had a career-low .656 OPS following last season’s second-half OPS of .582.

“I don’t put more pressure on myself because of Judge,” said Stanton, who was in the outfield (right field) for the 12th time this year. “It’s nothing to do with that for me. It’s never a lack of effort or a lack of work.”

Donaldson, included among the manifest feared missing, had a .130/.215/.406 slash line with six homers and 10 RBI since Judge left the lineup. On Saturday, he crushed his 10th home run into the left-center-field stands for a 2-0 lead in the second. That’s 10 home runs … out of his season total of 14 hits.

“I feel like my at-bats have been there,” said the third baseman, who also came off a lengthy stay on IL during that fateful series at Dodger Stadium. “I can’t control where the ball is going.”

So Stanton … and Donaldson … and hey, LeMahieu, too, who essentially has fallen off a cliff since he signed his six-year, $90 million contract ahead of the 2021 season, following his first two seasons as a Yankee, in which he posted a .336/.386/.536 slash line. Since then, he has gone .256/.340/.366 while making several trips to the IL.

But Saturday, LeMahieu hit a solid double in the second inning. Baby steps, maybe, but steps nevertheless.

The Missing reappeared on Saturday. It was quite a sight. Maybe they will even show up again Sunday.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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