Saturday, April 1, 2023

Volpe Gets First MLB Hit, But Yankees Come Up Short Against San Francisco

Anthony Volpe at bat in the sixth inning. Photo by Jason Schott. 

On Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, when the Yankees were taking on the San Francisco Giants, there was one Yankees player who got the loudest cheer when the lineup was announced, when the roll call from the Bleachers Creatures commenced, and when he came to the plate.

If you thought it was Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, you would be wrong.

It was the new sensation, the new kid on the block, the hometown kid who grew up a Yankee in Jersey, the Yankees' rookie shortstop, Anthony Volpe.

When he came to the plate in the bottom of the second, chants of "Volpe!" rang out from the bleachers, and he responded by lacing one to the left side of the infield, and it just got under the glove of Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford.

The crowd kept the "Volpe!" chants going and gave him a standing ovation.

Anthony Volpe standing at first base after notching his first career hit. Photo by Jason Schott.

Volpe struck out his next time up in the fourth inning against Giants reliever Jakob Junis, who was brought in to face him. That's a sign of ultimate respect, in a sense, that they didn't want Cobb facing him again.

Then, in the sixth, with Junis still in for San Francisco, he flew out to right field. In the ninth, against Giants closer Camilo Doval, he singled and scored as part of a ninth inning rally that fell short as the Yankees fell to San Francisco, 7-5.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked in his pregame press conference about the attention Volpe has received, and how he has handled it, “It’s something that I’ve talked to him about, ‘no’ is an okay answer, which he’s going to have to learn, he’s such a good kid. He’s got such a good head on his shoulders that I’m not too worried about it, but even from a work standpoint, you know he’s a guy that loves the game and works his tail off, so it’s even like now, as we get into a Major League season and that unfolds, it’s like we’re making sure, pulling him back a little bit, like ‘you don’t have to go out every day and take ground balls, swing,’ so making sure that us as a staff, but also even his teammates making sure they take care of him, sort of showing him the way up here, what this could be like, so yeah, we’re mindful of that.”

On Volpe's performance Saturday, Boone said in his postgame press conference, "More good at-bats from him today, you know, he's in the fight every time up there, and we certainly like where Anthony's at right now."

GIANTS 7, YANKEES 5: The Yankees got the early lead in this one, as Aaron Judge singled, then scored on a throwing error by Giants pitcher Alex Cobb, on what could have been a double play ball from Giancarlo Stanton, to give them a 1-0 lead.

Stanton then hit a bomb to right field in his next at-bat in the third inning for his first home run of the season to make it 2-0 Yankees.

Then, in the fourth, San Francisco finally got to Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt, as Joc Pederson launched a bomb to right field, near when Stanton hit his, for a solo shot, and then Brandon Crawford hit one into the bleachers in right for a two-run shot, and just like that, San Francisco was up, 3-2.

Schmidt, who had struck out five Giants in the first three innings, was pulled from the game at that point, giving the Yankees just 3 1/3 innings in his first start of the season.

"His stuff was good," Boone said afterwards. "You know, had the long inning there, I think in the second inning, where he had to work (San Francisco got two singles, but he struck out the side). Just probably a couple of long at-bats where they were eventually able to get him to make a mistake. Long at-bat there to Pederson, you know, he gets him with trying to backdoor the slider and just goes middle down with it, and then falls behind Crawford obviously, and just the cutter that didn't do much on the 3-0 pitch. You know, a lot of good in there, and then I think just long inning hurt him a little bit, and a couple of long at-bats where he just, credit to them, they outlasted him and get a pitch to do some damage with."

In the fifth inning, with Jakob Junis on for the Giants, DJ LeMahieu lined one to center field that Mike Yastrzemski lost in the sun. It went over his head, and rolled to the fence, so LeMahieu raced to second for a double.

Judge was up next, and he hit a single to left field, and LeMahieu was held at third, and he would score on an Anthony Rizzo double to tie the game at three.

Junis would keep them there, as he got Stanton to ground out to third base, struck out Josh Donaldson looking, and then got Gleyber Torres to hit one back to him to end the inning.

In the top of the sixth, with Michael King on for the Yankees, David Vilar opened the inning with a single, Brandon Crawford doubled, and Blake Sabol was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.

After Roberto Perez struck out for the first out, LaMonte Wade, Jr. dribbled one in front of the plate. Yankees catcher Jose Trevino went out to get it, and King came in for it as well, which left home plate wide open for Villar to race through and score to give the Giants a 4-3 lead. By the time King and Trevino were aware of what happened, Wade was practically at first base, so they didn't bother throwing, so the Giants still had the bases loaded.

Michael Conforto, the ex-Met outfielder now with the Giants, then struck out for the second out, but Thairo Estrada then singled to bring in Crawford and make it 5-3.

Albert Abreu then pitched two scoreless innings out of the Yankees bullpen to keep it there, and Josh Donaldson blasted one into the left field corner for a solo shot, his first dinger of the year, to make it 5-4.

Clay Holmes came on for the Yankees in the ninth, making his first appearance of the season after a disappointing end to last year.

Estrada flew out to right to open the inning, but then Pederson singled, and he came all the way around when Yastrzemski doubled to deep center field. Crawford would single him in to make it 7-4 Giants.

Camilo Doval, who had 27 saves in his first season as Giants closer last year, came on for the bottom of the ninth, and he was greeted by the new rules immediately. He had a ball called on him before he even threw a pitch because he was not ready in time to face pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks, who was up for Trevino.

Hicks struck out, but the Stadium got an immediate jolt when Volpe singled and LeMahieu walked to bring Judge up as the tying run.

Judge singled to bring in Volpe and make it 7-5 San Francisco. Anthony Rizzo then walked to load the bases for Stanton, who homered earlier, and the crowd really went into a frenzy, with the rain starting to come down, adding to the atmosphere.

Stanton hit a rocket, but it was right at Crawford, who turned the 6-4-3 double play to end it.

As the Giants started pouring out of the dugout to celebrate and the fans started heading for the exits, the Yankees asked for a review.

The San Francisco Giants waiting to see if they won the game. Photo by Jason Schott.

After about a minute-plus of a review, umpire crew chief Laz Diaz announced both outs were recorded, and the game was over. The Giants won it, 7-5, and since the Yankees won the opener Thursday, 5-0, both clubs are 1-1, with the rubber game of the series tomorrow afternoon.

Boone said of asking for the review, "I was just challenging because I knew they were close to the naked eye, so I wasn't even getting confirmation, was just, you know, end of the game. I knew it was close either way."

ESTEVAN FLORIAL: The Yankees announced on Saturday morning that outfielder Estevan Florial was designated for assignment. This is a sad end for a player who was one of the top prospects in the Yankees organization, rated as high as No. 3 in 2019 by MLB Pipeline, and No. 10 by Baseball America the following year and in 2022. Baseball America also honored the Barahona, D.R., native as being the Yankees organization’s “Fastest Baserunner,” “Best Defensive Outfielder” and “Best Outfield Arm.”

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked how his conversation was with Florial when he informed him of the move, “Difficult. Yeah, in some ways, a little sad, you know, just, we’ve been through a lot with Flo, such a great kid.

“The one thing that I tried to remind him and encourage him of is, he’s still a young man with a ton of talent. You know, this game is difficult and clicks at different points for different people. Whatever happens here over the next few days moving forward, we’ll see, but yeah, tough conversation.”

Florial had stints in The Bronx in 2020, ‘21, and ‘22, but the success he saw in the minors, where he hit .267, with 74 home runs and 306 RBI in 580 games in eight seasons, did not translate to the majors, as he hit .185 with one run and three RBI in 29 games over three seasons.

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