There was one wrinkle in the plan and it emerged when Stanton started feeling tightness in his left hamstring. Instead of patrolling right field, he is the designated hitter.
Even though the hamstring impacts how the Yankees use Stanton, the ailment is not trickling down to his bat heading into Sunday’s finale of a four-game series with the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium.
Stanton has started four straight games as the designated hitter and not started in the outfield in seven of the last 11 games. He hit his 29th homer in the first inning Saturday — his fourth blast in the last five games — and singled two batters ahead of rookie Miguel Andujar’s tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh of a 5-3 victory.
“He’s, frankly, been moving well,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He does a good job of playing very much under control. I think it’s about a week where it’s been a little bit of tightness.”
Since Judge went on the disabled list July 27, the Yankees are 8-7. In those games, Stanton has six homers, 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
“It’s good,” Stanton said. “The training staff has been helping me out a lot and just making sure I’m ready to produce still.”
With Stanton’s condition in mind, Shane Robinson has been getting the bulk of the starts in right field, though Neil Walker started there for the third time Saturday.
Texas is 10-5 in its last 15 games despite a bullpen ERA of 7.35 since the All-Star break. The Rangers nearly tied the score Saturday by loading the bases against Aroldis Chapman. They had numerous chances but were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.
Shin-Soo Choo had three hits Saturday and is 6-for-12 in the series. Rougned Odor is hitting .379 since the All-Star break for Texas.
“We are finding out what these guys can do in situations,” said Texas manager Jeff Banister, who has seen Keone Kela, Jesse Chavez and Jake Diekman get traded from his bullpen. “Moving forward, we’ll continue to maneuver our guys around and see what kind of feel they have for all the different kinds of situations. We still have a lot of confidence in these guys.”
The Rangers will also hope to do better at keeping the Yankees from homering. New York leads the majors with 190 homers and 21 have come in the first six games of the season series with Texas.
CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.49 ERA) starts for the Yankees and he is coming off one of his best outings of the season.
Although he took a no-decision in Tuesday’s 4-3, 13-inning victory at Chicago, Sabathia allowed one run and four hits and struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings.
Sabathia is seeking his 244th win, which would break a tie with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for 53rd place on the career list.
The veteran left-hander is 11-6 with a 5.41 ERA in 23 starts against Texas. He has allowed at least three earned runs in nine straight starts against Texas and at least four earned runs in seven of his last nine outings against the Rangers.
Martin Perez (2-4, 6.15) makes his 11th start of the season for Texas and is pitching decently in five starts since coming off the disabled list. He is 0-1 with a 3.56 ERA since returning from right elbow discomfort.
Perez last pitched in Monday’s 12-inning loss to the Seattle Mariners when he allowed three runs and 10 hits in seven innings. He allowed a solo homer to Mike Zunino and has given up four homers since coming off the DL.
Perez is 2-1 with an 8.53 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees and is making his first career appearance at Yankee Stadium.