NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton visited manager Aaron Boone's office Thursday night. Their conversation was brief.
"We both kind of said, 'Let's go,'" Boone said.
Stanton is back in New York's lineup for Game 5 of the AL Championship Series after missing three straight games with a strained right quadriceps. He's set to start at designated hitter and bat fourth against Astros ace Justin Verlander on Friday night.
The Yankees lost all three games in Stanton's absence, falling behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. They hope the 2017 NL MVP can jumpstart an offense that's stalled out after creating plenty of traffic. New York has worked Houston's pitching staff hard, drawing 16 walks but going 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position the past three games. The one hit didn't even score a run.
"Ultimately, the goal is to create those opportunities," Boone said. "Now we've got to break through."
Limited by injuries to 18 games during the regular season, Stanton homered in the series opener after hurting his leg running to first base in his first at-bat.
Stanton ran at 60% before an 8-3 loss Thursday, and Boone said it was the first sign of improvement since suffering the strain. Stanton isn't ready to play the field and won't be able to give it his all running the bases. The injury shouldn't be an issue at the plate, though, and that's where New York needs the towering power hitter most.
"I think he's a threat from the minute he walks into the batter's box, whether he's got fully healthy legs or not," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
Edwin Encarnación, who had been the DH, moved to the bench. Acquired midseason to compliment New York's star-heavy lineup, Encarnación is 1 for 15 in the ALCS.
First baseman DJ LeMahieu led off, followed by right fielder Aaron Judge, second baseman Gleyber Torres, Stanton, center fielder Aaron Hicks, catcher Gary Sánchez, shortstop Didi Gregorius, third baseman Gio Urshela and left fielder Brett Gardner. Left-hander James Paxton is on the mound.
Hinch bumped shortstop Carlos Correa up one spot to sixth in his order and subbed in right-handed hitter Jake Marisnick for Josh Reddick in the outfield.
Correa hit a game-ending home run in the 11th inning to win Game 2 and cracked a three-run homer in Game 4. He moved one spot ahead of slumping Yordan Álvarez, who is 1 for 15 in the series.