Today’s game, the annual New York City Public Schools Day at Yankee Stadium, brought the roar of thousands of children every time a ball was hit in the air. The crowd of over 40,000 had a lot to cheer about as the Yankees turned in an entertaining matinee performance on Wednesday.
Every game counts the same, and the Yankees will take wins wherever they can get them. The Rays feasted on the Athletics for three W’s in early April, and the Yankees obliged by similarly taking care of business with Oakland in an 11-3 rout to secure the sweep.
The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the first by way of an Aaron Judge walk, Anthony Rizzo single, and DJ LeMahieu walk, setting the stage for Gleyber Torres.
Torres is feeling it. He set a new career high in exit velocity with a 111.7-mph rocket off JP Sears for a home run on Monday. Not only is his power flashing, his often-elusive plate discipline is too. Torres came through against Kyle Muller to draw first blood with a tremendous bases-loaded situational hitting at-bat. He spit on two changeups below the zone that would’ve been difficult to elevate, Muller left the third one in the zone and Torres rapped it to center for a sacrifice fly.
Harrison Bader followed that up with a three-run home run that just barely snuck over the right-field wall into a waiting fan’s glove. Whether it’s bloop singles or wall-scrapers, everything’s going Bader’s way in his first 30 at-bats back from the IL.
For the first four innings, Jhony Brito executed the optimal game plan of a pitcher spotted a four-run lead early: fill up the strike zone, pitch to contact. There were a few blemishes, though. The Athletics got right back in it with consecutive solos in the second. Brito’s 0-2 changeup caught far too much of the plate and Carlos Pérez yanked it into the left-field seats. Brito missed location with a fastball to the lefty Jace Peterson and he also pulled it well into the right field seats.
The A’s came out swinging in the third against Brito. After the right-hander hit Ryan Noda with a pitch, JJ Bleday sent one into the right-field corner for a double. Brito stranded both Noda and Bleday, wiggling out of trouble using his effective changeup to strike out Tony Kemp.
After a scoreless fourth, Brito allowed a walk to Noda and a double to Brent Rooker in the fifth. Aaron Boone then went to Jimmy Cordero, ending Brito’s day at 4.1 innings, five hits, two walks, and 77 pitches (51 strikes). Cordero stranded Brito’s runners with a pair of popups to close the rookie’s line with just two earned runs.
In the bottom of the fifth, Judge doubled (part of a three-hit day for the Captain) and Rizzo drove him in with a bloop single to chase Muller from the game after four-plus innings. LeMahieu then welcomed reliever Rico Garcia to the game with an impressive opposite-field home run, sending it into the Yankee bullpen to push the lead up to 7-2.
The Yankees loaded the bases after the LeMahieu home run as they turned over the lineup card. Anthony Volpe added to the barrage with a grand slam that showed tantalizing power missing from the rookie’s numbers so far. He’s held his own as an on-base and speed threat, but if he really starts slugging, this lineup is lethal.
As an added bonus, Volpe became the youngest Yankees player in franchise history to hit a grand slam at any version of Yankee Stadium.
After Cordero completed 1.2 scoreless innings, the just-recalled Deivi García appeared in pinstripes for the first time since 2021. His rotational mechanics are finicky, and we saw a few sprayed fastballs that missed badly. He pitched well over the final three innings with the exception of a solo shot by Bleday and yet another double from Noda. Since baseball’s save rules are a touch quirky, he was credited with his first career save for his work (though he was demoted afterward for a fresh arm to be announced).
The Rays come to the Bronx tomorrow for a crucial four-game weekend set. The Yankees have a nine-game hole to escape, and the upcoming series is a golden opportunity to cut into the division deficit. The Yankees will try to put their best foot forward as Domingo Germán takes the mound to kick off the series at 7:05 pm EDT.