Yankees hot start fueled by timely hitting, situational baseball

PHOENIX — Not everyone can be as sexy as Juan Soto, Anthony Volpe or Oswaldo Cabrera to start the season.

And while those three Yankees played important roles on the team that started 5-0, they also got significant contributions from the rest of their lineup in the less sexy categories of moving runners with productive outs, to draw bases on balls and to bring up the opposing starter. number of steps.

The Yankees’ offense is quickly becoming a headache to contend with — and that’s even the case with Aaron Judge, Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton still finding their rhythm early on.

Austin Wells hits a sacrifice fly in the third inning of the Yankees’ 5-2 victory
the Diamondbacks on Monday. Getty Images

They did this without always needing the long ball to be an integral part of scoring runs.

DJ LeMahieu said during spring training that situational hitting was “going to be held to a higher standard” under new hitting coach James Rowson and early feedback seems to bear that out.

Austin Wells was a prime example of that in Monday’s 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

The score shows he finished the night 0 for 3, but he still found a way to make an impact.

In his first at-bat, with Volpe on second base and no outs, Wells hit a deep ball that allowed the shortstop to move up and reach third.

With the extra 90 feet, Volpe came in to score a batter later on Cabrera’s single.

Anthony Volpe sprints home to score a run in the third inning of the Yankees' win over the Diamondbacks on Monday.
Anthony Volpe comes home to score a run in the third inning of the Yankees’ win over the Diamondbacks. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Then, in the Yankees’ three-run third inning, after walks by Anthony Rizzo and Verdugo (on 10 pitches) and a single by Volpe, Wells hit a sacrifice fly that scored both Verdugo and Volpe (thanks to a pair of errors in the game). ).

“I think that was one of the biggest goals this spring and going into the season, we just wanted to continue to pass the baton and move guys (over the top) and get guys like Judge, Soto and Rizzo and all those guys at the top, step back — and with an exhausted starting pitcher,” Wells said. “I feel like our job at the bottom is to keep working (at bats), just like they do it at the beginning.

“Just having that extra 90 feet makes the difference in the game most of the time and that’s been the case in the first five games we’ve played. We will try to continue on this path. »

Wells put together quality hitters while starting three of the Yankees’ first six games.

He delivered a key bunt in Game 2 against the Astros, which helped fuel a four-run inning that broke the game open.

The catcher also had three walks, two of which turned an inning into a rally.

There have been other examples elsewhere in the lineup as well over the first five games.

On Sunday, Stanton recovered 90 feet from second to third on Verdugo’s ball to center, putting him in position to score on Jose Trevino’s single a batter later.

And of course there was Verdugo on Opening Day, coming to the plate in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game against Ryan Pressly.

Instead of trying to hit a grand slam, he threw a ball deep enough into left field to score Judge on the sacrifice fly.

“It’s a classic look to be situational out there, less is more, and, ‘Man, I know I have to hit the ball, elevate it a little bit in the big part of the field to get this job done ‘” manager Aaron Boone said. said. “Usually when you do that, you’re now in a better position to deal with a mistake that shows you can jump or something. I thought it was great at-bats, great situational awareness. A winning piece.

New York Post

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