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Giancarlo Stanton Breaks Out From Slump With Walk-Off Grand Slam

With one swing, a walk-off grand slam to defeat the Pirates, Stanton positioned himself to finish the season on a high note and carry momentum into the playoffs.
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NEW YORK — As Giancarlo Stanton trudged back to the Yankees' dugout following his third strikeout of the night against the Pirates on Tuesday, with boos raining down Joey Gallo style from a restless crowd at Yankee Stadium, Aaron Boone felt a pang of optimism.

Watching from his perch on the first-base side, the Yankees manager noticed during Stanton's third strikeout in a row that the slugger started to look closer to breaking through from a lengthy slump. Boone thought Stanton produced some quality swings, regaining some of his timing at the plate while coming up empty on results. 

Factoring in his third punch out on Tuesday, Stanton was 9-for-82 with 33 strikeouts dating back to July 21. He was hitting .125 (9-for-72) since August 25, when he made his return from the 10-day injured list and left Achilles tendonitis.

As Stanton has proven throughout his tenure in New York, however, he has an innate ability to flip abysmal stretches into white-hot runs in a matter of one swing. 

So, when he stepped up to the dish as the winning run in the bottom of the ninth later in the game, shortly after Aaron Judge crushed his 60th home run of the season, Stanton stuck to his approach.

That's when the results finally arrived.

Stanton decimated a walk-off grand slam off Pirates right-hander Wil Crowe, a home run that Judge referred to as a "signature" Stanton shot, a laser that sizzled through the air practically 10 feet from the ground.

Statcast tracked the line drive at 118 mph. Boone said after the game it should be recalculated to 130.

"I had a good front-row seat for that one," Judge said with a smile. "I think the whole team lost its mind, the stadium erupted. That was a pretty special moment right there."

Stanton's blast was his third career walk-off grand slam, matching the most by any player in Major League history. He joins an exclusive club with 10 other Yankees to ever smack a walk-off grand slam. Stanton is the fourth player from that esteemed group to have accomplished such a feat with New York trailing by three runs, something his current teammate Josh Donaldson also did earlier this season.

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Asked what was going through his mind as he flipped his bat high in the air, jumping in celebration before transitioning into his home run trot, Stanton didn't skip a beat.

"It's about damn time," he said. "I feel like I saw the ball pretty well tonight, it just didn't show until the last at-bat. That's the beauty of this game, that's the difficulties of this game and just got to take that into tomorrow."

Whether Stanton's heroics serve as a catalyst for a late-season surge, building momentum for the postseason, remains to be seen. That said, Boone couldn't stop singling out Stanton's at-bats leading up to his home runs during his postgame presser. He truly believed that his latest strikeout was a sign that those kinds of Stantonian blasts were on the way.

"Happy for G, obviously it's been a grind for him since working his way back," Boone said, explaining that no moment is too big for Stanton. "I think he was a little perplexed that he swung through [a 3-2 slider in his third at-bat]. Felt to me like from the side he was on time and just somehow swung through it. Well, he didn't swing through that next one. One of those really magical innings."

If the Yankees can get Stanton rolling over these next few weeks, it's hard to quantify just how big of an impact his presence will have on New York's banged-up lineup, a unit that's currently missing Andrew Benintendi, DJ LeMahieu and Matt Carpenter due to injuries.

"We saw it the past couple of years in the playoffs," Judge added. "He's one of the biggest pieces of our offense, if not the biggest. When he gets hot, there's no telling what he's gonna do on a nightly basis. So even tonight, he had a couple of rough at-bats to begin with, but he didn't care. He was getting booed, it doesn't matter. That just shows you how mentally tough he is to go up there in a big spot after already a couple of strikeouts, groundouts, whatever. Go show up, put on a good at-bat and win us the game."

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