Giancarlo Stanton went a calendar month, May 7 to June 6, without hitting a home run, and with barely a hit at all, just four singles and a double. He played only 14 games during that span, due to a strained quad that put him on the injured list in mid-May, but his .109 batting average and .130 slugging average during that month of games, not to mention his 21 strikeouts, had the Yankees worried.
Then he came to Minnesota.
The 31-year-old slugger — who only this season reaches the halfway point of his 13-year, $325 million contract — has thrived against the Twins over the years, hitting .313 in 16 games, and again this week. He singled twice on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he ended the longest home-run drought of his Yankees career, 15 games, by blasting a pair of long homers against Randy Dobnak and driving in five runs during New York's 9-6 win.
None of it surprised Rocco Baldelli.
"I've seen him play for years. He's a very dynamic player [and] a lot of it is kind of in your face," the Twins' manager said. "You watch him step into the box, he's a very physical guy. Has the type of strength that very few people in any professional sport have."
No kidding. In the third inning, Stanton's first homer of the night hit the top of the juniper bushes in center field, a 423-foot cannon shot that still wasn't hit as hard as his first-inning double, a hit with a 118.3-mph exit velocity. Two innings later, Stanton whistled a ball 405 feet to right-center, clearing the high wall.
"He's out there, he's looking for a pitch to hit, he's swinging," Baldelli said. "He can look bad on a pitch or two, and then immediately turn around and change the course of a game, single-handedly. … He did it to us tonight."
He also raised his average to .267, and his slugging percentage to .507. That's more like what the Yankees envisioned for their designated hitter this year, especially when Aaron Judge also connects, as he did against Dobnak.
"That's who he is," Baldelli said ruefully.