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Didi Gregorius made Yankees history last week

New York’s shortstop broke a number of records during the Bombers’ thrilling home opener.

Didi Gregorius heads for home after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2018. Gregorius produced eight RBIs to break a number of records as the Yankees defeated the
Didi Gregorius heads for home after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2018. Gregorius produced eight RBIs to break a number of records as the Yankees defeated the Rays 11—4.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Yankee fans, forced by snow and rain to wait longer than expected for the team’s home opener, got amply rewarded for their patience. Didi Gregorius produced an Opening Day for the ages. The Yankees’ shortstop went 4-for-4 with a walk in five plate appearances. He singled, doubled, and belted a pair of three-run homers to lift the Yankees to an 11-4 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

Dubbed “the infield captain” by manager Aaron Boone, Gregorius made history by driving in eight runs. He became the first Yankee shortstop ever to knock in eight runs in a game, and only the sixth in MLB history to accomplish the feat. Sir Didi also set the record for most runs batted in by any player at any position during his team’s home opener.

”The win is the most important thing,” Gregorius said. “That’s one thing that you want to do, for sure. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. As long as we got that win in there, that’s all that matters. It’s the home opener, it’s raining, snowing yesterday. But we’ve got to get ready to play. Get mentally tough and just go out there.”

Gregorius helped the Yankees deal the first blow in the bottom of the second inning. He led off the frame by banging a double off the right-field wall and came around to score the Yankees’ first run on a Tyler Wade single.

After the Rays tied the score, Didi put the Yankees up again in the third. Following singles by Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge, Gregorius lined a shot that cleared the wall down the right-field line. His first three-run homer of the game gave the Yankees a 4 — 1 lead.

Tampa tied it up again, but the Yankees took a one-run lead in the seventh. Gregorius then gave New York’s beleaguered bullpen the breathing room it needed to put the game firmly in the win column. With two on, Didi belted his second home run of the game. He batted again in the eighth, blooping a two-run single to complete his historic day at bat.

”I think everyone around the game understands what a good player he is and what a big-time money player he’s become,” Boone said. “I think his peers have a lot of respect for him around the league and the guys in our room really respect just who he is. There were a lot of fun comments on the bench, just about their teammate. It was quite a show that he put on today.”

The Yankees’ faithful — who endured a snow out on Monday and outlasted cold and rainy conditions throughout Tuesday’s rescheduled bout — got to witness history. The grateful crowd treated Gregorius to a pair of curtain calls.

Gregorius joins Yankees’ immortals

With his historic Opening Day performance, Sir Didi accomplished more than just individual records. He also helped the Yankees become the first franchise in MLB history to boast at least one player at every position who had knocked in at least eight runs in a game.

Yankees with eight RBI in a game:

- Player Pos Game Foe Result PA AB R H RBI HR 2B 3B BB
- Player Pos Game Foe Result PA AB R H RBI HR 2B 3B BB
1 Tony Lazzeri 2B 1936-05-24 PHA W 25-2 6 5 4 4 11 3 0 1 1
2 Alex Rodriguez 3B 2005-04-26 LAA W 12-4 5 5 3 4 10 3 0 0 0
3 Danny Tartabull RF 1992-09-08 BAL W 16-4 5 5 3 5 9 2 1 0 0
4 Didi Gregorius SS 2018-04-03 TBR W 11-4 5 4 3 4 8 2 1 0 1
5 Bernie Williams CF 1996-09-12 DET W 12-3 6 4 2 3 8 2 0 0 2
6 Paul O'Neill RF 1995-08-31 CAL W 11-6 5 5 4 4 8 3 0 0 0
7 Elston Howard C 1962-08-19 KCA W 21-7 6 6 4 4 8 2 0 1 0
8 Yogi Berra C 1957-07-03 BOS W 10-0 5 5 1 3 8 1 0 0 0
9 Joe DiMaggio CF 1940-08-13 (2) BOS W 19-8 5 5 3 3 8 2 0 0 0
10 Joe DiMaggio CF 1939-08-28 DET W 18-2 6 4 3 3 8 2 0 0 2
11 George Selkirk LF 1938-08-12 (2) PHA W 16-3 5 5 2 3 8 2 0 0 0
12 George Selkirk RF 1935-08-10 (1) PHA W 18-7 6 6 2 3 8 2 0 0 0
13 Lou Gehrig 1B 1932-09-09 (1) DET L 13-14 8 6 2 2 8 1 1 0 2
14 Lou Gehrig 1B 1930-07-31 BOS W 14-13 5 3 3 3 8 1 2 0 1
15 Lou Gehrig 1B 1930-05-22 (2) PHA W 20-13 7 5 3 3 8 3 0 0 1
16 Roy Hartzell 3B 1911-07-12 SLB W 12-2 5 4 2 2 8 1 1 0 0
Table by Brett Borzelli, stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

Quite the company Didi finds himself in. Lazzeri, Berra, DiMaggio, and Gehrig are all enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Remarkable that neither Babe Ruth nor Mickey Mantle ever produced an eight-RBI game. The historic game in 1932 — when Gehrig belted four home runs and Lazzeri achieved a natural cycle capped by a grand slam — also failed to make the list.

Prior to Tuesday, the most RBI by a Yankee shortstop in a game was six. Gregorius shared that mark with Roy Smalley, Lyn Lary, Everett Scott, and Roger Peckinpaugh.

Bombers achieve historic home run mark

The two-homer output by Gregorius during the Yankees’ home opener also helped the storied franchise achieve another historic mark. Along with Giancarlo Stanton’s two home runs during the season opener in Toronto and Tyler Austin’s two days later, Didi’s incredible day at the plate gave the Yankees three players with multi-homer performances in the team’s first five games. That’s the earliest in franchise history. The previous mark was 13 games in 1990, accomplished by Mike Blowers, Dave Winfield and Jesse Barfield.

Didi’s two-homer day was only the second such long ball-fest by a Yankee in the club’s home opener. Outfielder Russ Derry did it on April 17, 1945, against the Red Sox.

The day after Didi’s legendary game, Yankee fans celebrated Wednesday’s 7-2 win for another reason. It marked the first time that the three-headed right-handed hitting monster Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez homered in the same game. Fans across The Empire eagerly anticipated this event since Stanton’s acquisition from the Marlins over the winter.

When will we get to witness the club’s three big righties plus the left-handed hitting Gregorius homer in the same game? I have a feeling we won’t have to wait much longer.