There’s nothing like having a one-two punch in baseball.
The Philadelphia Phillies felt the impact of this first-hand on Monday in their 4-2 loss to the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park.
Aaron Judge smacked his 20th home run of the season to give the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in the fifth inning.
Then when the Phillies cut the Yankees’ lead in half in the bottom of the seventh, it was the Yankees’ next power hitter who rose to the occasion to close out the win.
With two men on, Giancarlo Stanton lined a chopper over the outstretched arm of Phillies shortstop Scott Kingery to balloon the Yankees’ lead to 4-1.
Stanton, acquired in a trade with the Marlins back in November, has been sensational for the Yankees this season and showing what having a powerful duo can do for a franchise.
He’s batting .265 with 19 home runs, 46 RBI and 46 runs this season. Over his last 12 games, he’s batting .396 with four home runs and 10 RBI. He also has the Yankees off to a 52-26 start and atop the MLB.
Judge meanwhile is hitting .277 with 20 home runs, 52 RBI and 53 runs on the year.
“We’re starting to see him impact some fastballs,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Stanton. “I think he’s finding that timing I’ve been talking about all year and getting synched up. He’s getting started a little bit earlier. It’s very subtle, but we’re seeing the results a little more.”
The Phillies never truly had a dominant one-two punch during their brilliant run as a team from 2007-11. Ryan Howard was the slugger and the likes of Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Pat Burrell chipped in around him.
Getting a player like Stanton is a top priority for the Phillies in the offseason. Talented players such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado don’t come around often in free agency. The Phillies’ last run is a clear indicator of how difficult it is to sustain success off the bat of one slugger.
Both Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins and Judge are in just their second seasons in the league. Hoskins became the fastest Phillie to 30 career home runs on Wednesday with his 12th home run of the season.
In addition to that, Hoskins is batting .246 with 46 RBI and 42 runs on the season. Fans expect him to eventually become a 40 home runs a year hitter like Howard once was.
He has helped lead the Phillies to a respectable 42-36 record so far this season, which has them right on the bubble of a wild-card spot, but the team is struggling to produce runs. They’ve scored 340 runs this season, which ranks them 18th in the MLB.
If the Phillies want to take the next step towards contention, they know what they have to do. The Yankees look destined to advance to their first World Series since 2009, a year they beat the Phillies in six games to take home their franchise’s 27th title.
With a couple of additions, the Phillies are right there with them. The turnpike series could be renewed once again.