Even without Anthony Rizzo and Harrison Bader, the Yankees’ offense continues to click. They’ve now scored 30 runs across the last three games, with Anthony Volpe, Aaron Judge, and Greg Allen leaving the yard on this particular night and Isiah Kiner-Falefa staying locked-in with four hits and four RBI. Nestor Cortes was sharp through the first four and serviceable enough in the fifth to put the Yankees on track for an eventual 10-2 victory.
The Yankees’ hitters came with a clear plan to make Seattle starter Logan Gilbert work. The at-bat quality was on display in the first inning. All nine men went up to hit, taking close pitches and fouling off 13, working deep counts, and driving his pitch count up to 38. Gleyber Torres led off with a single, followed by an eight-pitch walk worked by Aaron Judge. An error by Eugenio Suárez on a routine DJ LeMahieu groundball loaded the bases for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who lined a single up the middle to plate Torres and Judge.
It continues a hot stretch for the utilityman, bringing his RBI total to eight over his last six games and 10 for his last 30 overall with three home runs, two doubles, and a triple over that span. A Jake Bauers sac fly brought IKF home as the Yankees spotted Nestor Cortes a 3-0 lead in the first.
Anthony Volpe booted a groundball in the first to allow Julio Rodríguez to reach, but two innings later showed us the elements of his character that no doubt enamored the Yankees to him during spring training. After Willie Calhoun and IKF reached via singles in the third, up stepped Volpe with two outs and a chance to widen the Yankees’ lead. He quickly fell behind 0-2, but stuck with his approach and didn’t expand, crushing a slider to left for a no-doubter three-run bomb.
Volpe easily could have carried his frustration at the error with him to the plate. Instead, he turned the page and got to work and was immediately rewarded. Even Greg Allen got in on the action, leading off the following inning with his first home run of 2023 to make it 7-0.
Mark that as Allen’s first dinger in pinstripes, too, as he didn’t go deep during his 15-game stint in 2021.
Entering the fifth inning with a big lead, it was hard not to get flashbacks of that nightmare against the Orioles last week. Cortes hasn’t been shy about discussing his struggles in the fifth inning and beyond this season, where he’s pitched to a 14.44 ERA vs. a 2.03 ERA in innings one through four.
It became immediately apparent that Cortes’ command was notably degraded in that fifth, as he issued a leadoff four-pitch walk to .158 hitter Sam Haggerty. Ty France drove him home with a double, and the first baseman would come around to score on a Teoscar Hernández double to cut the Yankees lead to 7-2. Things threatened to spiral out of control as Cortes issued a two-out walk to .163 hitter AJ Pollock to put a pair on for Suárez, the Mariners’ RBI leader. Thankfully, Cortes was able to strike out the third baseman to strand the pair, but with his pitch count at 101 that would spell the end of his night with a final line of five innings, five hits, two runs, three walks and six strikeouts.
Things got a little weird in the bottom of the sixth inning with Michael King on in relief. First, we got our obligatory installment of the ump show, with first-base ump CB Bucknor ringing up Tom Murphy on a clear check swing, and then rookie home-plate ump Brian Walsh running the Seattle catcher from the game at his first disagreement with the call. Scott Servais also got his marching orders before we could return to some actual baseball.
Cal Raleigh came off the bench to replace Murphy and hit a lazy fly ball to right-center. Judge and Allen converged on the ball, but both pulled up assuming the other would catch it. It goes down as a double on the scorecard, and after a J.P. Crawford single, the Mariners were threatening with runners on the corners. King buckled down and struck out France on a filthy sweeper to strand the pair.
Relatively quiet at the plate through the first six innings, Judge decided that the seventh was the appropriate time to remind everyone of his greatness. Leading off the frame, he lined a missile to left center in almost exactly the same spot where he left the yard for the second time last night for his AL-leading 18th of the season.
Even with all of the fanfare around him, IKF quietly stole the night, capping it off with a two-run single in the ninth after Judge walked and Calhoun singled. The single was his fourth of the contest to go along with four driven in, giving the Yankees a double-digit outlay in back-to-back-to-back games for the first time this season. Kiner-Falefa only notched one four-hit and four-RBI game apiece last year, and they came in separate contests. It was a fitting exclamation point at the end of the 10-2 victory.
The Yankees will go for the sweep tomorrow night with Clarke Schmidt taking on George Kirby. It’s another late one — 9:40 pm ET first pitch — but we hope you’ll still join us in the game thread!