2018-03-29 20:39:04
Giancarlo Stanton Blasts 2 Home Runs in Yankees’ Opener

20:39, March 29 241 0

TORONTO — When Giancarlo Stanton paraded through the clubhouse during spring training in Florida, walking back and forth between his locker and the batting cage, he was often wearing gold headphones on his head.

It was almost as if he was preparing for his first real exposure to the pressurized New York market.

“Good times will be magnified, and so will the bad,” Stanton said recently. “The fans expect a lot, be prepared. I expect a lot, too, so we’re in the same boat.”

Stanton did not have to wait long for his first memorable Yankee experience. He belted two home runs — including a two-run shot in his first at-bat — and drove in a run with a double on Thursday to lead the Yankees to a 6-1 season-opening victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was the Yankees’ first opening-day victory since 2011, and the game could not have gone more swimmingly for Aaron Boone, their rookie manager. Luis Severino breezed through five and two-thirds innings with just one hit allowed; the lockdown bullpen did its part; and the Yankees offered the rest of baseball a discomfiting look at the power-packed head of their batting order.

In support of Stanton, who finished with four R.B.I., Aaron Judge doubled, singled and walked. Gary Sanchez drove in a run with a ringing double, and leadoff hitter Brett Gardner dropped a solo homer over the right-field wall.

As far as opening impressions go, it was not a bad one.

A hiccup for the Yankees would not have been entirely unexpected here — not only because of their usual troubles on opening day, but also because the Blue Jays have given them more trouble than any other team in baseball over the last three seasons.

J.A. Happ, Toronto’s left-handed starter, had beaten them five times without a loss over the last two seasons.

It did not take long for it to become clear that Thursday would unfold differently.

After a somber ceremony honoring the Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay, who died in November, and the introductions of both teams along the baselines, the curtain raised just in time for Blue Jays left fielder Curtis Granderson, the former Yankee and Met, to drop Gardner’s routine liner for an error.

Happ recovered to strike out Judge, which brought Stanton to the plate for the first time as a Yankee.

He took the first pitch, a fastball on the outside edge of the plate, for a strike. Happ came back with the same pitch, but left the two-seamer over the plate. Stanton, delivering the compact swing of a pesky singles hitter with a tight end’s body, answered by driving the ball deep into the right-center field seats.

As he jogged around the bases, Stanton flashed the gold bottoms of his spikes and feigned taking a handoff from the third base coach Phil Nevin as he reached out to the slugger rounding third. Stanton reached home as the first Yankee to hit a home run in his debut for the team since Judge did so two years ago.

Stanton pushed the Yankees’ lead to 3-0 in the fifth when he doubled off reliever John Axford to drive home Judge, who had walked. Sanchez followed by doubling to center field, comfortably scoring Stanton.

It was all coming together for Boone, who has spent much of spring training considering how to configure his lineup, tinkering with batting Judge leadoff and pondering whether or not to split up Judge, Stanton and Sanchez with a left-handed bat. If only Boone’s other decisions are so easy.

After Gardner’s home run off Danny Barnes in the seventh, the Blue Jays put their only blemish on the Yankees bullpen when Kevin Pillar hit Dellin Betances’s first pitch over the center-field wall. The only other Toronto hit was a fourth-inning single by Granderson.

Stanton capped the scoring by crushing a full-count changeup from Tyler Clippard in the top of the ninth, hitting it into the second deck in center field.

There was to be no drama in the ninth, as Aroldis Chapman blew through the Jays in order. For Boone, it was a comfortable end to a day that had begun in similarly mundane fashion.

He woke up at the team’s hotel, went to the team breakfast, fiddled around on his computer, and was on the 10 a.m. bus to Rogers Centre. Once there, he worked out on a treadmill and met with the pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the bench coach Josh Bard and the bullpen coach Mike Harkey to run through their game plan. Then he checked in with some of his players before heading to his pregame news conference.

Boone’s wife, Laura, their four children, and his mother and father — the former major league manager Bob Boone — will join him Monday for the Yankees’ home opener.

But he did hear from his parents, in a phone call with his father on Wednesday night and in a text from his mother on Thursday.

“He was like, ‘Good luck, have fun,’” Boone said. “My mom sent me a lot of emojis this morning — a lot of hearts, prayers, the whole bit. So that was nice. I get a nice balance there: My mom fires off emojis, my dad’s just kind of chill.”

The day didn’t get any more hectic for Boone — or the Yankees. It was as easy as watching Stanton circle the bases.