Monday, July 3, 2023

Bader Blast Caps Off Yankees Comeback Against Baltimore

Harrison Bader celebrating his game-winning home run with his arms raised after he crossed the plate. Photo by Jason Schott. 

On the first-ever fireworks night at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees stormed back to beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3, on Monday night, with Harrison Bader blasting the game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees began their comeback with Anthony Volpe and Kyle Higashioka hitting back-to-back solo homers off Baltimore starter Tyler Wells, who only yielded a couple of singles over the first four innings. 

Then, in the seventh, Volpe singled off Baltimore reliever Mike Baumann, and he eventually came in to score on a wild pitch by Yennier Cano.

Baltimore kept Cano on for the eighth, and Giancarlo Stanton opened the frame with a laser to center field for a single. 

The Orioles then turned to Danny Coloumbe, and Anthony Rizzo then singled to give the Yankees two runners on and nobody out.

Bader crushed a 1-1 pitch to deep left field that was a no-doubter, and sent the crowd of 46,015 into a frenzy. 

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Bader having the signal to swing away, even with Baltimore playing for a possible bunt, "I wasn't going to take the bat out of his hands completely there. Once there was a strike on him, I didn't want to mess with it, felt like the hole was open there at the least, with them playing it pretty aggressively on the bunt, so, you know, I was only going to play for it for one pitch, probably there, and then he did the rest, got a hanger, did good things with a hanger."

It was Bader's seventh home run of the season, and he now has 26 RBI, as he has been limited to 38 games due to two stints on the injured list.

Boone said of what Bader adds to the lineup, especially with Judge out, "Well, let's start with center field, he's great out there, and then, you know...Harrison's one of those guys that kind of hits anywhere from the middle towards the bottom when we're whole, so he gives us length because he's got a power presence with him and a speed presence with him, so he's on base, so he brings a really good skill set to the team, and, you know, especially when we're whole, he makes our lineup a lot tougher."

Stanton's single in the eighth capped a 2-for-4 night for him, as he also doubled in the sixth. Boone said of his at-bats, "I thought the first two weren't great, you know, he didn't have his good rhythm going. I felt like, actually, the last couple of days, even though the last day in St. Louis, he didn't get any hits, I thought he got some good swings off, and then tonight the first two, I just thought timing and rhythm were a little bit off, and then he locks it in there for that third at-bat and really sticks one, and then the Cano at-bat's special one. That's G when he's locked in right there; Cano's as tough as can be, especially on righties, and to have a deep at-bat there, laying off some really tough pitches and really getting that inning started with a bullet off a tough customer. That was huge and a great at-bat, and in a lot of ways, maybe the at-bat of the game there."

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees, his first outing since he threw a perfect game last Wednesday in Oakland. 

Boone was asked, in his pregame press conference, what reception he thought German would get and he said, “I imagine great, and I hope that’ll be the case. It should be pretty cool to start the homestand with Domingo back out there after coming off a magical night, you know, hopefully it gets its proper appreciation. I’m sure it will, and hopefully, obviously, he continues to build off that.”

German got a big ovation at around 6:30 p.m., a half hour before first pitch, when he went to the outfield to begin his pregame warmup routine.

On if German had been acting differently since the perfect game, Boone said, “Not really, he’s a pretty upbeat guy normally, anyway, and I think he’s been pretty much the same. You know, I think the biggest thing is that night and the next morning, we talked at length, and I think he was just a little bit awed by what just happened and processing the realization of it. You know, I think, as he kept saying, I know, to you guys, but even to me some, I’m at a loss for words. I think he’s grateful, he’s - I go back to the offseason, where I feel like he had a really good offseason and came in a really good place to compete and pitch well, and I think, you know, obviously, the perfect game speaks for itself, but I think going into it, whatever his ERA was, which was higher than, you know, how he’s pitched.”

German’s earned run average (ERA) entering the perfect game was 5.10 and he lowered it to 4.54, while improving his record to 5-5.

Boone continued, “He’s pitched really well for us in the first half; he had two really bad outings that kind of set him back a little bit, but I think he answered that a little bit with his last outing. He’s fine a really good job, I think he appreciates, you know, what happened and, I think, his place in history for that. That’s one of those things that will last forever. He’ll be coming back here, and signings, appearances, and taking pictures with David Cone and David Wells for the rest of his life, you know, and that’s pretty neat.”

Domingo German pitching to Adley Rutschman in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

German picked up where he left off initially, as he retired the Orioles three up, three down in the first.

Then, Ryan O'Hearn and Ramon Urias singled before Cedric Mullins got an RBI single to make it 1-0 Baltimore. They kept it going in the third when Gunnar Henderson got a one-out single and raced around to score on a double from Adley Rutschman, and then O'Hearn singled in Rutschman to make it 3-0.

German then worked around a single to Adam Frazier in the fourth, as he notched two strikeouts before he ran into trouble in the fifth.

Rutschman and Anthony Santander each got one-out singles that knocked German from the game, and the Yankees turned to left-hander Nick Ramirez, who struck out O'Hearn and got Ramon Urias to bounce into a force out.

German's final line was: 4 1/3 innings, 9 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts.

Ramirez stayed on for the sixth, and he retired the O's in order, and his 1 2/3 innings were a hinge moment in the game, according to Boone, who said Ramirez was "awesome, kept them right there. You know, obviously, Domingo gave up a lot of hits, there was a lot of traffic, but we were in it, you know, it didn't get away, stayed away from the extra base hit, the slug, you know, so, obviously not perfect, but we were in it, and for Nick to come in and kind of hold the line there and give us a chance and then, you know, punch back with two runs there (the Volpe and Higashioka back-to-back HRs), but Nick was huge tonight, what did he go, five outs for us probably, kind of through the middle-bottom part of their lineup, that was big."

Ian Hamilton, who recently returned from his stint on the injured list, worked around a two-out Rutschman single and a Santander double by getting O'Hearn to line out to short stop. 

Tommy Kahnle pitched a scoreless eighth, as he worked around an Aaron Hicks single (more on him in this report) with a pair of strikeouts, and he wound up with the win, his first since he returned to the Yankees this season. 

Clay Holmes, who looks as automatic as ever again, retired the Orioles in order in the night, including two strikeouts, to earn his 10th save on the season.

It also was the return to Yankee Stadium for Aaron Hicks, the outfielder whom the Yankees jettisoned in late May. Through Sunday, in 26 games with Baltimore, Hicks was hitting . 263 (21-80) with four home runs and 12 RBI, after he hit .188 (13-69), with one homer and 5 RBI in 28 games with the Yankees this season.

Boone said of Hicks succeeding with Baltimore, “I mean, he’s just taking advantage of some opportunities I know, early on, you know, was doing really well, got a big hit for them yesterday. So, be good to see him out there, hopefully we can contain him a little bit. To his credit, and I said, he could have taken his ball and gone home, and he got right back out there, threw himself in the mix, and I know he’s worked really hard to continue to earn opportunities over there.”

Hicks went 1-for-4 in his return to New York, and while the Yankees presented a tribute video to his time in pinstripes, the fans were just as ruthless to him as when he played for the home team.

Boone said of the reception for Hicks, "You know, I'm not going to get into judgments of that. You never know what the reaction's going to be, Fourth of July crowd, raucous, I don't know."

Aaron Hicks running to first on his grounout to second baseman Gleyber Torres in the sixth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

This was the first of a pivotal four-game series with the Orioles, and the Yankees improved to 47-38, moving to within three games of the O's, who fell to 49-34, in the race for an American League Wild Card spot and the eastern division, where Tampa Bay is in first, followed by Baltimore, then the Yankees.

Before the game, Boone said of the importance of this series, “It’s a division opponent, someone we’re fighting for playoff position and all that, so takes on a lot of importance. Obviously, a very good team in the middle of a really good year over there. I just want us to play well, final homestand going into the All-Star break, seven games, hopefully we can have success at home and, you know, obviously, slowly but surely, continue to get a little more healthy, get guys back, we get (Carlos) Rodon back this week, and hopefully, that’s just one of the many to come, but I just want us to play well; that’s the biggest thing. Obviously, we’re grinding right now to find that consistent offense night in and night out, and hopefully we can continue to get some guys moving in the right direction. I feel like we have built a little bit of steam, but we know there’s a lot of room to continue to grow there.”

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