Stanton’s three-run home run in the third inning, an opposite-field blast deep into the right-field bleachers on an 0-2 fastball from Braves starter Julio Teheran, was his 21st of the season and gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
The shot continued a stretch of steady improvement by Stanton, who batted .298 with eight home runs and 17 runs batted in during June. He went 7 for 24 with two home runs over the last six games at Yankee Stadium, which was not a hospitable environment for him over the first two months of his Yankees career.
Perhaps most ominous for the rest of baseball, Stanton said he felt “pretty close” to the hitter he was over the second half of last season, when he hit 33 home runs, including 18 in August, to finish with a majors-leading 59.
“I still think there’s another gear,” Boone said of Stanton. “We’ve seen that other gear last year when he ran off and won the M.V.P. Does that mean he goes on a run like last year? That would be great, but who knows?”
Higashioka carved out his own place in team history with his fourth-inning solo shot, which made him the second Yankee to have his first three major-league hits be home runs. The other was Alfonso Soriano, who did it over the final games of the 1999 season and the first three of 2000. Higashioka began his big-league career hitless in his first 22 at-bats before he homered against the Boston Red Sox on July 1, then hit two more in his next three games.
Judge’s home run, another solo shot, completed the Yankees’ scoring in the seventh, and Sabathia, who worked six innings of five-hit, two-run ball, was able to throw 103 pitches in the humid 89-degree weather, his highest total since September 2016.
It all should have added up to a celebratory Fourth of July victory for the Yankees, who instead will embark on a three-city, 11-game road trip under an unexpected cloud.