The Yankees’ offense might live and die by the home run, but today, they sure lived. Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Luke Voit all had home runs. Torres knocked two for good measure. James Paxton and the Yankee bullpen weren’t at their best, but they were good enough to get the job done. Merely good enough is plenty refreshing after a few frustrating games.
Torres simply carried the offense. His hit parade got started in the third when he led off the inning with a homer to left. Alex Cobb hung a splitter on the inside part of the plate, and Torres deposited it in the left field seats. He kept it going with a lead off double in the fifth, though he didn’t come around to score that inning.
Both the Yankees’ and Torres’ day peaked in the sixth when his three-run homer put the team ahead 5-4. Earlier in the inning, Gary Sanchez knocked Alex Cobb out of the game with a homer of his own. After a pitching change, Greg Bird and DJ LeMahieu reached on singles, setting the table for Torres. Mike Wright Jr. attacked him with fastballs up and in and worked a quick 0-2 count, but when Wright went there for the third time, Torres took it deep.
Torres finished his day with a single in the eighth inning. Without a doubt, he was the player of the game today. Nothing like watching someone significantly younger than you excel in their career at such a young age, am I right?
Luke Voit extended the Yankee lead to four in the ninth inning with a three-run homer. Tyler Wade singled to begin the inning, and Brett Gardner walked to set the table for Voit, who sent a 97 mph sinker into the first row of left-center field seats. The Yankees carried that 8-4 lead to the game’s conclusion.
On the mound, James Paxton couldn’t have had a worse start to his day. Jonathan Villar homered to lead off the bottom of the first. After two walks and a single, the Orioles loaded the bases, and Paxton balked, allowing another run to cross the board. A wild pitch during the same at-bat brought home another run, and the Orioles had a 3-0 lead.
James Paxton's first inning. All that blue? That's not what you want. pic.twitter.com/adDkBtIQel— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) April 4, 2019
After a turbulent first, Paxton really settled down. The first inning made it abundantly clear he didn’t have his best stuff, but it did improve a little bit as the day progressed. His fastball didn’t touch 95 mph in the first inning but was consistently over that number in the fifth. Paxton’s final line sat at 5.1 innings, eight hits, four runs, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Pretty solid overall, considering how disastrously the game began.
The Yankee bullpen wasn’t stellar today, but to their credit, they held the Orioles in place. Tommy Kahnle followed Paxton with 1.2 innings of work. He struck out one and walked one, but it was apparent he had no idea where the ball was going. Only 14 of his 25 pitches went for strikes, and even the pitches that did find the zone rarely seemed to hit their spot.
It took Zack Britton 24 pitches to get through the eighth, but only one runner reached scoring position. Aroldis Chapman had the best day of the Yankee relievers. After a lead-off single, he retired the next three batters to finish the game in a non-save situation.
Some other notables from today: Brett Gardner reached base three times with a walk and two singles. Aaron Judge struck out four times today but fell victim to a poor strike zone twice. Umpire Ed Hickox had a couple of downright terrible calls against Judge, and neither him nor Aaron Boone were happy. Chris Davis struck out three times, remaining hit-less on the season. Hanser Alberto pinch-hit for him in the eighth.
This game will hopefully wake up the Yankee offense for good. The team racked up 12 hits and four homers, and while the pitching wasn’t as good as it’s been, it was enough. It’s obviously quite early, but it felt like the Yankees needed this one. They’ve got an off-day tomorrow, and they’ll resume the series Saturday night in Baltimore.