Locked in a tight battle with constant foil Justin Verlander, the Yankees cannot afford to sacrifice runs or run-scoring opportunities on Saturday afternoon.
Naturally, they let two slip by before the end of the third inning.
First, they found themselves set up with Harrison Bader on second and Isiah Kiner-Falefa on third after a ringing double with no outs in the second inning. An Anthony Volpe sac fly kept the line moving. The next two batters didn't.
Then, with two out and nobody on in the third inning, Giancarlo Stanton smacked a laser double down the line off JV, continuing his positive progress at the plate in recent weeks. Unfortunately, he's managed to stay on the field due to self-preservation; the 33-year-old Stanton often hobbles around the field like a far older man, when he chooses to run at all.
The next batter, DJ LeMahieu, looped a line drive single towards right-center. When the center fielder scooped the ball up and fired home, Stanton was coming around third. When the ball arrived at the plate (offline, we might add), he was loping in the direction of home, walking into a tag that wouldn't have looked out of place at a corporate softball event for arthritis awareness.
Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton can no longer run
Why send Stanton? Rojas must've been hoping for a bad throw. He got one, even! But it was too late for Stanton to adjust his routine on the bases.
This gaffe was 70% on Rojas for poor awareness, of course ... but ... Stanton, even in a stagnant state, has to have another gear or two higher than that. He just has to. If this is the best effort he can give, than the "Stanton in right field" experiment should be abandoned immediately (and trade talks should be entertained this offseason).
Imagine Stanton at 36? We had no interest in doing so on Saturday afternoon, but were forced to by Rojas' poor judgment.