NEW YORK – Yankees racket Giancarlo Stanton returned to the starting lineup and stabbed the ball in his first strike for nearly three months, but New York fell 3-2 against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night with a shot at  Stanton, struggling with knee problems this season, was eliminated from the 60-day list of injured, finishing fifth and playing on the left. He braced a double in the gap in the left center, which led away from the second inning in his first shot, sunk in the fourth a ground-out of 114.3 mph and hit in the sixth.
Manager Aaron Boone, who said that before the game Stanton would likely get two bats and play four or five innings on the field on Wednesday. Stanton was removed for Tyler Wade to start the seventh.
but catcher Kyle Higashioka dropped the ball and tried to make a quick, difficult mark on the plate.
Stanton has just played his 10th game this year and has been holding the back cruciate ligament in his right knee since June 25. He could well be the batsman for a full match on Thursday.
"I'm just setting it up," said Boone, who wants to play regularly against Stanton to improve his timing and durability as October approaches. The Yankees have nine games remaining in the regular season.
New York had to either defeat the Angels that day or lose the Tampa Bay Rays to block the AL East. The Rays played against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Stanton, the 2017 NL MVP with Miami, hits with a homerun and seven RBIs .294. The 29-year-old Slugger had trained in his second season with the Yankees in the team's minor league complex in Tampa, Florida.
Stanton is deployed at the designated batsman and in the left field. New York has changed a number of players through the latter, especially since Mike Tauchman has strained his left calf this month. Tauchman was expected to miss six to eight weeks.
After Stanton was activated, Reliever Dellin Betances was inducted into the 60-day IL just three days after his season debut. Betances partially tore the Achilles tendon on his left foot as he jumped onto the hill in Toronto on Sunday. Surgery was not recommended, but it is still possible. Betances will seek a second opinion.
The right-handed betances had previously gone out with a collision on his pitching shoulder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.