Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Martian Lands At Yankee Stadium

Jasson Dominguez connecting on a double against Detroit on Tuesday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

Jasson Dominguez has been on Yankees’ fans radar the past couple of years, with his evident "out of this world skills" leading to the adoption of his moniker, The Martian.

On Friday night, the Yankees called up the No. 2 prospect in the Yankees organization and No. 76 in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2019, when the Esperanza, D.R. native was the top-ranked prospect by MLB.com for the 2019 international signing period. 

Dominguez made an incredible first impression, as he launched a two-run home run the opposite way against the Houston Astros’ Justin Verlander in the top of the first inning.

This made Dominguez just the sixth player in Yankees franchise history to hit a home run in his first plate appearance, with the last ones to do it Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin on August 13, 2006. That was also a time when the Yankees were bringing up hyped prospects, and Judge and Austin’s debuts came one day after Alex Rodriguez played his final game. Another famous debut home run was Marcus Thames on June 10, 2002 against Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 2001 World Series rematch. 

Dominguez finished the three-game series by belting a go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth inning on Sunday night, as the Yankees won 6-1 to complete the sweep of the Astros.

That made Dominguez just the fourth Yankee to hit two homers in his first three games, as he joined Judge (2016), Joe Lefebvre (1980), and Yogi Berra (1946). He also, according to ESPN Stats & Info, became the first player at age-20-or-younger in Major League Baseball history to hit two home runs in first three career games since 1900.

Jasson Dominguez taking a cut during Tuesday night's game. Photo by Jason Schott.

Dominguez was set to make his debut at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, and he was slotted in center field and batting in the third spot in the Yankees lineup against the Detroit Tigers.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone, in his pregame press conference on Tuesday afternoon, said of the reception he would receive, “I think it’s going to be positive, make sure he’s got hit acknowledgement to the Bleacher Creatures ready. I know the fan base will be very excited to see him out here in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium. Obviously, a really, really great debut in Houston for him and others (including catcher Austin Wells), and again, just excited for him to continue to grow and find his way to this level.”

On what stood out the most about Dominguez’s debut weekend, Boone said, “I think just his easygoing nature, you know, that easy smile he has. You know, we talk a lot about, anxiety is usually an enemy of the hitter, you know, when you’re in the box, and he doesn’t seem to bring any anxiety to the plate. You know, he seems very comfortable, again, whatever the result is. 

“He’s got a really good knowledge of the strike zone. He plays the game with ease, and I think enjoys it, enjoys the preparation, enjoys the work, and doesn’t seem to get overwhelmed by circumstances. You know, it’s just a few games in, but that’s kind of been his M.O. coming up through the minor leagues, too.”

Dominguez made his Major League debut at just 20 years and 206 days old, the ninth-youngest Yankee to debut as a starter and sixth-youngest position player to do it. He the youngest position player to make his debut as a starter since Bobby Murcer, who was 19 years, 111 days old when he played shortstop against the Washington Senators on September 8, 1965.

In Tuesday night's game against the Tigers, which the Yankees won 5-1, Dominguez went 1-for-4 with a double, bounced into two force outs and struck out once.

Jasson Dominguez approaching first base on his double, with Aaron Judge ahead of him at second. Photo by Jason Schott.

The double came in the eighth inning with the Yankees ahead, 3-1, and Brendan White pitching for Detroit.

Aaron Judge opened the frame with a walk before Dominguez blasted one up the gap in right field. 

That gave the Yankees runners at second and third bases for Gleyber Torres, who got a double of his own down the left field line to bring them in and open up a 5-1 lead.

Boone said of Dominguez's at-bats, "I thought they pitched him tough really his first three at-bats, where he didn't necessarily have great at-bats, and then, you know, able to set us up there in that final inning, get some tack-on runs. You see the speed, you see him kind of step on it, not that he necessarily needed to, but even if they cut it off early, he's standing at second base with that speed."

Gerrit Cole got the win for the Yankees, as he keeps building up his Cy Young Award case. He is now 13-4 on the season with a 2.90 ERA.

Cole went six innings, as he allowed one run (earned) on eight hits and no walks, with seven strikeouts.

The one Detroit run came on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera that tied it at 1. Cabrera, who is retiring after the season, was honored in a pregame ceremony by the Yankees and received applause all night.

The Yankees got the lead in the bottom of the sixth, which lined up Cole for the win, when Giancarlo Stanton blasted one to left-center field for a two-run homer. That made it 3-1 Yankees, and it was his 22nd dinger of the season. Most importantly, it was Stanton's 400th home run of his career.

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