The Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton watches his solo home run against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning on May 8, 2018, at Yankee Stadium.

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Palladino: Stanton’s Walk-Off HR Provided More Than A Yankees’ Signature Moment

Ernie Palladino
June 21, 2018 - 3:12 pm
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The entire baseball world -- or at least the part that buys the Yankees caps and jerseys -- had waited for the better part of three months for Giancarlo Stanton to announce his presence.

That changed Wednesday night when he dramatically clouted his first walk-off homer of the year, depositing in split-second order Mariner reliever Ryan Cook’s slider 453 feet from home plate on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth inning of a 7-5 comeback victory.

The media depicted it as his first true Yankees moment, a fitting tribute if one wants to pigeon-hole it among the growing list of other Yankees moments over the decades. But, unbeknownst to those in the seats, it went much deeper than that.

Stanton’s 18th homer of the season bore historical significance outside the team’s Bronx confines. It was historic, not just from a Yankee perspective, but from a baseball perspective.

Keep in mind that none of that is going to qualify him for a plaque once he wraps his career. It may not even get a mention, considering all the other homers, big and small, the organization expects him to hit. But still, it’s quite something, especially for a player whose .221/.297/.434 slash line at Yankee Stadium underlines and italicizes his problems.

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Yet, there was Stanton, sitting at 0-2 with Didi Gregorius on first, the game tied at five with two out in the ninth.

And off it went.

It counted as the major league’s first walk-off homer on an 0-2 pitch since last April 30 when Arizona’s Daniel Descalso victimized Colorado’s Jordan Lyles.

Going back, it marked only the Yankees’ second 0-2 walk-off homer since 2000 when Jason Giambi launched one off Toronto’s B.J. Ryan in ’08.

In other words, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. And it didn’t really matter at that point that Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez beat him to it this year with their walk-offs against Cleveland and Minnesota.

Does any of that mean that Stanton has figured out his troubles against right-handers like Cook? Certainly it’s a step in the right direction, though he still has much work to do to pretty up that .223/.309/.396 overall slash against righties.

And he does have those 98 strikeouts in 274 at-bats to make the situation even uglier.

But if he ever wanted a confidence boost, there was no better solution than the blast he delivered when Wednesday’s game had extra innings written all over it.

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It was a moment for sure. Another added to the list of weird and wonderful feats the lineup has accomplished in a season that has seen them go 27 games over .500 and move two games up on the second-place Boston Red Sox.

It took 71 games for Stanton to announce his true presence in pinstripes.

Now he has.

As for the future, he’ll have a lot to do with that, too. But he’ll have plenty of support. The offense remains loaded -- both he and Aaron Judge lead with 18 homers, and Sanchez appears to be catching fire again after hitting his 14th. And how many teams out there envy the bullpen arms the Yanks can run out to the mound on a nightly basis?

They need another arm for the rotation, but they’ve still got one of the best in baseball in Thursday’s starter Luis Severino.

Even their eager, young guns are making the right decisions. Case in point: Torres preemptively declining to participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby, the same competition that sent Judge into last year’s two-month tailspin with a bad shoulder.

The comfort level of those other factors, combined with Stanton’s first signature Yankee moment, should provide the slugger with all he needs to effect a major turnaround in the coming weeks and months.

If the fans have to wait a while longer for that to happen, at least they’ll know now what Stanton is truly capable of.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino