Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees aim for 3-game sweep of Astros

MLB Baseball

Two weeks ago, Giancarlo Stanton’s batting average was well under .200.

Since then, Stanton is on one of the hottest streaks of his career, and he looks to lead the New York Yankees to a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros when the teams conclude their lively series Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees are on a five-game winning streak and are 10-3 since a 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on April 21. At the time Stanton was hitting .158, but since then he is resembling the player who batted .316 in the American League Division Series last season.

“I’d say I’m doing a great job on mistakes,” Stanton said. “The pitcher makes a mistake on the middle of the plate, I’m doing some damage. That’s my job.”

Stanton takes a .314 average into Thursday and is hitting .500 (24-for-48) while hitting in 11 straight games — the third-longest streak of his career. He has seven hits and eight RBIs so far against Houston, and in Wednesday’s 6-3 win, he hit a two-run homer, a game-tying double and an RBI single in the eighth inning.

“It’s been awesome,” Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks said. “G’s definitely a guy that can change the outcome of a game. It’s definitely nice to have him rolling.”

Making mistakes against Stanton has doomed the Astros, who will try to halt a three-game slide after hearing plenty of boos directed at Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa for their roles in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.

“You can’t make mistakes with him,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said of Stanton. “He’s hitting every mistake. He’s hitting good pitches.”

The Astros will try to get their offense going against Gerrit Cole, who was 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 65 regular-season starts in Houston before signing with the Yankees after 2019.

Cole is off to a terrific start.

He was 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA in six starts last month to earn American League Pitcher of the Month honors, which included Friday’s outing, when he fanned 12 and scattered four hits in six innings of a 10-0 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Cole’s 62 strikeouts through his first six starts are the most in team history, and he also has recorded at least seven strikeouts in 15 straight regular-season starts, tying him with Nolan Ryan for the second-longest streak by an AL starting pitcher.

Cole also has four starts with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks, tying the team record set by Mike Mussina in 2001.

Cole’s only previous appearance against Houston was Aug. 24, 2016, when he allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.38 ERA), who is coming off his best start of the season, goes for Houston. On Friday at Tampa Bay, he allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings while getting nine strikeouts and throwing 111 pitches, his most since July 22, 2016.

McCullers is 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA in four regular season starts against the Yankees.

–Field Level Media

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