Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Yankees "Coming In With An Edge," Led By Bader & Volpe, As They Complete Sweep Of Oakland

Anthony Volpe approaching home plate and his teammates who just scored on his grand slam. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees, powered by home runs from Harrison Bader and DJ LeMahieu, and the first-career grand slam for Anthony Volpe, completed their sweep of the Oakland Athletics with an 11-3 win on Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees improved to 21-17, winners of six of their last eight games, and in the case of this sweep of the 8-30 A's, they beat the teams they are supposed to beat.

"I like where we're at, like we're coming in with an edge," Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said in his postgame press conference. "I felt that this morning, like there's an energy to a quick turnaround game, like we got to go, we got to keep going. I feel like we've done a good job of that over the last ten days really, and you could sense that energy in the building this morning, and that's important."

One of the reasons Boone may feel the Yankees have a renewed sense of spirit is the arrival of center fielder Harrison Bader, who made his season debut last Tuesday, and he made his presence felt immediately in this one.

The Yankees went to work against Oakland starter Kyle Muller, as Aaron Judge walked, Anthony Rizzo singled, and DJ LeMahieu walked before Gleyber Torres hit a sacrifice fly to put them on the board.

Bader was up next, and he blasted one the other way just got over the fence, out of the reach of A's right fielder JJ Bleday, for a three-run homer, and just like that, the Yankees led 4-0. 

That was Bader's third home run, to go along with 11 RBI, in eight games played, which to reiterate, the Yankees have won six of them.

Boone was asked what impact Bader has had, and he replied, "Impact! Extra base hits, hitting the ball out of the ballpark, a couple of triples, great in center, energy, professionalism he brings to the table every day. You know, guys feed off of him a little bit, too, you know, so I talked about, really through the last week, and the guys are really hooked up and preparing and competing really well and that continued today, and Harrison's been right in the middle of it."

Oakland got back into it in the second inning when Yankees starter Jhony Brito gave up back-to-back home runs to Carlos Perez and Jace Peterson that made it 4-2 Yankees.

The A's then got a pair of runners on in the third, but Brito got out of it by getting Jordan Diaz to pop out to shortstop and struck out Tony Kemp.

After breezing through the fourth, Brito allowed a one-out walk to Ryan Noda and then Brent Rooker doubled.

The Yankees then, in the call of the game, went to Jimmy Cordero. He got Bleday to pop out to third base for the second out of the frame before hitting Diaz with a pitch to load the bases, but got Kemo to pop out to short to end the frame.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees exploded, starting with a Judge lead-off double and a Rizzo RBI single that chased Muller from the game.

In came Rico Garcia, and he was greeted by a two-run bomb to center field from LeMahieu, his fifth homer of the season, to make it 7-2.

Torres doubled, and then after he got Bader to pop out to the catcher and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to bounce out to second base, Garcia walked Kyle Higashioka and Oswaldo Cabrera.

That brought Anthony Volpe to the plate, and he crushed one to center field for his first career grand slam, and that gave the Yankees a seven-run inning and an 11-2 lead at that point.

Volpe, the Yankees rookie shortstop now has four home runs and 13 RBI on the season.

Cordero stayed on and pitched a scoreless sixth. Since he was the pitcher of record in the fifth inning with the Yankees ahead, he earned the win, his second of the season. 

Deivi Garcia came on in the seventh inning, for his first appearance since May 29, 2021. He was called up on Wednesday morning, and he threw the final three innings in his first career relief appearance. He allowed just one run, on a home run to Bleday in the seventh; two hits, one walk, and two strikeouts, in his first career save (to clarify, if you pitch three innings to close a game, no matter the margin of the score, you get a save).

"It was a big pick-me up," Boone said in his postgame remarks. "I mean, to be able to have him finish that game and give us three innings was big. You know, it wasn't perfect, but he made some pitches, especially when he got in some three-balls counts, so the walk didn't hurt him, and it was a big pick-me-up for the team to be able to give us three innings there to stay away from guys was big for us."

Following Wednesday's game, Garcia was sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

TAMPA BAY COMES TO THE BRONX: The Yankees host the first-place Tampa Bay Rays (29-9) for a four-game series starting Thursday night, mere days after they had a hard fought series last weekend, in which the Rays took two of three.

Boone said of the Yankees entering this series with some momentum, "Look, we're, again, I just, I like our approach, I like where our mind is, I like where our room is, I like how we're preparing, and that's the thing we can control right now, and obviously, you know, getting a couple of guys back (likely referring to Bader and Judge) has been big for us, back in our lineup, so, you know, it's just nose-down. We've got obviously a very tough opponent coming in as part of this homestand next, and we've just got to keep on, you know, moving forward. Keep on moving."

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