October 8, 2020 | 2:41am
Giancarlo Stanton may not be able to put the Yankees on his back, but he’s certainly trying.
The Yankees slugger homered for a fifth straight game Wednesday night, though it came too late in an 8-4 loss to the Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS at Petco Park in San Diego.
Stanton’s two-run shot, which traveled an estimated 410 feet in the eighth inning off Shane McClanahan, made him the first player to homer in his team’s first five games of the postseason. He enters Thursday’s Game 4 one long ball shy of Daniel Murphy’s MLB record of homering in six straight games for the Mets in 2015.
“I feel good,” Stanton said. “Hitting’s difficult any way you look at it, but just really sticking to good plans over anything. If I stick to my plan, I’ll be fine. If you fall into [the pitcher’s], bad things happen.”
After missing more than half of the regular season with injuries, Stanton has been a force in the playoffs. He added a single Wednesday night — his first hit of the 2020 postseason that wasn’t a home run — and is now batting 7-for-19 (.368) with six home runs and seven strikeouts. Stanton has driven in 10 runs and scored four, making him responsible for 14 of the Yankees’ 18 runs in the series.
“It’s been incredible,” Aaron Judge said. “This is the type of player that I knew he is, he’s always been. … It’s been fun to watch so far, we just need to step up as a team and support him as he keeps doing his thing.”
Playing in his home state of California, Stanton’s current playoff run has been a far cry from his past Octobers with the Yankees. In 2018, he went 5-for-22, homering in the wild-card game against the A’s before largely going quiet in the ALDS loss to the Red Sox. Last year, he hit 3-for-13 with one home run and strained his quad against the Astros in the ALCS.
Now he will be tasked with coming up big again on Thursday to help make sure the Yankees avoid another playoff exit.
Stanton’s five hits in the series are tied with Aaron Hicks for the team lead, but aside from those two and DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees have largely been missing big hits against the Rays’ tough pitching staff.
“They’ve thrown some good pitching at us, but at the same time, we’re great hitters,” Stanton said. “We haven’t put up like we should the last few games, but it’s OK. We know what we need to do. What’s in front of us is in front of us.”