|Aaron Hicks after connecting on his home run Thursday night. @Yankees on Twitter.|
When Aaron Hicks hit a three-run home run to tie Thursday night's Yankees game against the Houston Astros, it capped off a week full of clutch hits, as the Yankees' left fielder is becoming the hitter once again they are used to seeing.
On Saturday, in Toronto, he had a three-run double in the fourth inning that provided nearly all their offense in a 4-0 win.
Then, on Monday night in Tampa Bay, he broke a 2-2 tie in the ninth inning with an RBI triple in a game the Yankees went on to win 4-2.
On Thursday night, the Yankees were trailing 6-3 in the ninth when he hit his three-run blast, the second time in a week, and tenth time in his career, that he has tied the game or given his team the lead in the ninth inning-or-later.
In the 19 games he has played in June, up until Thursday's action and starting, Hicks is batting .300 (18-for-60) with two home runs, 11 RBI, seven walks, nine runs scored, one double, one triple, seven walks, two hit-by-pitches, and two stolen bases.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked on Friday afternoon if he felt this was inevitable, and if there was a specific moment he knew Hicks found himself at the plate, and he said, "Well, last night was a good moment, you know, for him to really step on a ball from the left side of the plate, that was really good to see.
"This month, I feel like he's slowly but surely started to get some results, you know, gaining traction, he worked really hard, you know, he's done so much extra work and extra hitting to kind of get himself in this position. You know, kind of this whole time, the one thing, he's been getting on base a little bit, so that's been kind of the saving grace. (Hicks had a .347 on-base percentage through Thursday, the product of 28 walks and four hit-by-pitches.)
"You know, obviously, had a big homer for us in Minnesota down the line form the left side (in a 10-7 Yankees win on June 9), obviously the triple the other night (in Tampa Bay) was a big hit, and then last night was huge, but I think it's a product of a guy just getting back, a guy that's worked really hard, and hopefully that's something that he can continue to do because, obviously, when he's going like he's capable of, he's a difference maker, you know, with his ability to control the strike zone, and his athleticism, you know, just adds that kind of length to our lineup."
Hicks has brought his average up to .233 (42 hits in 180 at-bats), with three home runs and 18 RBI, to go along with that .347 on-base percentage, .306 slugging percentage, and .653 OPS (on-base plus slugging). One plus to is he only has 45 strikeouts in 60 games, well less than one-per-game, proving he still was making contact throughout the season.
The Yankees took a lot of heat for sticking with Hicks, but they have been vindicated by seeing him return to the player he was in the few years before he lost last season to injury.