Alex Verdugo soaked in every second of first Yankees home run

PHOENIX — Alex Verdugo seemed to have been waiting for this moment, so once he connected for his first home run as a Yankee, he waited a little longer to start running the bases.

The outfielder demolished a two-run homer on the first pitch of the 10th inning Wednesday, giving the Yankees a lead at the time before beating the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 11 innings at Chase Field.

As the ball flew toward the right field seats, Verdugo took his time watching it soak in everything before swinging his bat down and running around the bases.

Alex Verdugo returns the bat after hitting his first home run as a Yankee. Getty Images

“First game with New York, a big spot like that, it felt good,” said Verdugo, an Arizona native, who had a large section of family and friends cheering. “Seeing the boys get excited, everyone barking at me, that was one of the ones that made me feel good.”

Verdugo, who provoked the barking by calling the Yankees “guys” during their sweep of the Astros, said he was simply trying to hit the ball to the right side to move the automatic runner. Instead, he scored them both in one fell swoop after starting the year 3-for-24.

“It was a big moment,” Aaron Judge said. “He’s had some nice swings and just hasn’t been getting results lately. … I liked that. I think the fans enjoyed it, we really enjoyed it. I liked it. This guy is a player.

Alex Verdugo (24) of the New York Yankees reacts after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rob Schumacher/The Republic/USA TODAY NETWORK

The Yankees bullpen was pretty sharp to start the season, but then there was what Ian Hamilton did on Wednesday.

Hamilton relieved Carlos Rodon in a no-hitter and pitched 2 ²/₃ perfect innings with four strikeouts and strikeout stuff.

The right-hander, who could fill Michael King’s void as the Yankees’ multi-inning relief threat, has now pitched 5 ²/₃ scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in three appearances this season.

“Wow,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s one of those where these guys haven’t seen it much at all and their swings have shown it. They’re swings, like, “What is this?” It was a dominant performance and obviously a great bridge to get us back. He was great throughout the entire trip.

Ian Hamilton pitches against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Getty Images

The Diamondbacks lost their DH in the top of the 11th when Ketel Marte was forced to move to shortstop after Geraldo Perdomo was injured running the bases in the bottom of the 10th and had to be looked for by outfielder Jake McCarthy.

This led the Yankees to intentionally walk Gabriel Moreno with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 11th to bring up pitcher Scott McGough.

Arizona had just scored a run to make it 6-5, but if that runner had stopped at third to load the bases, Boone said he would have walked to McGough.

The plan worked, as Caleb Ferguson struck out McGough to end it.

“You add a layer of weirdness for the pitcher,” Boone said. “But I was absolutely convinced I did it.”

Boone wanted to give Judge a second day of DH on Wednesday, which meant Giancarlo Stanton’s second trip to the bench.

After an encouraging spring, Stanton got off to a slow start to the season, going 3-for-20 with one home run, 11 strikeouts and one walk in five games.

“I think he’s healthy,” Boone said. “The life is there, the juice is there, all we have to do is keep it moving.” Even when G is at his best, sometimes the results aren’t always the prettiest. But as long as he’s healthy and shooting, I feel like the bat is accelerating and everything is where it needs to be. It’s just about being on time and not throwing some of the pitches that when he gets his swing right he can’t miss.

Verdugo got his first action of the season in center field in the final four innings of the game.

Jon Berti had a base hit for center fielder Trent Grisham in the top of the eighth against left-hander Joe Mantiply, then stayed in the game at third base.

Oswaldo Cabrera moved from third base to left field while Verdugo moved from left to center, his first time since 2021.

New York Post

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