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Yankees hot start fueled by timely hitting, situational baseball

PHOENIX — Not everyone can start the season like Juan Soto, Anthony Volpe or Oswaldo Cabrera.

And while these three Yankees played a big role on a team that started 5-0, they also provided productive outs to get past runners, draw walks, and push opposing starting pitchers up, which isn’t all that appealing. The category also gets important contributions from the rest of the batting line-up. Number of pitches.

The Yankees’ offense is quickly forming an identity as a difficult team to face. The same goes for guys like Aaron Judge, Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton who are still finding their rhythm in the early games.


Austin Wells hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning of a game the Yankees won 5-2.
Diamondbacks on Monday. Getty Images

They didn’t need the long ball to be an essential part of scoring, and they made it happen.

DJ LeMahieu said in spring training that situational hitting would be “held to a higher standard” under new hitting coach James Rowson, and his early return appears to confirm that.

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

He finished the night 0-for-3, according to the box score, but still found a way to make an impact.

In his first at-bat, with Volpe on second base with no outs, Wells hit a deep flyout, allowing the shortstop to reach third base.

Volpe came on with 90 feet left and then scored one batter on Cabrera’s single.


In the bottom of the third inning of the Yankees' win over the Diamondbacks on Monday, Anthony Volpe sprinted home for a run.
Anthony Volpe sprinted home for a run in the bottom of the third inning of the Yankees’ win over the Diamondbacks. Mark J. Revillas-USA TODAY Sports

Then, in the bottom of the third inning with the Yankees chasing three runs, after walks by Anthony Rizzo and Verdugo (10 pitches) and a single by Volpe, Wells hit a sacrifice fly, scoring both Verdugo and Volpe (the two on the play). Thanks for the error)).

“I think that was one of our big focuses this spring and heading into the season we wanted to continue to pass the baton and keep the players moving.” [over] And then you rebuild guys like Judge, Soto, Rizzo, the guys at the top, and you start with a worn-out starting pitcher,” Wells said. “I feel like our job, being at the bottom, is to keep improving.” [at-bats]just like the first time.

“Just getting that extra 90 feet, most of the time that’s the difference in the game and that happened in the first five games we played. We’re going to try to continue that.”

Wells started three of the Yankees’ first six games and put together quality at-bats.

He made a crucial bunt in Game 2 against the Astros, helping fuel a four-run inning to start the game.

The catcher also drew three walks, two of which turned the inning into rallies.

There were examples elsewhere in the lineup through the first five games.

On Sunday, Stanton picked up 90 feet from second base to third base on Verdugo’s fly to center field, putting him in position to score on Jose Trevino’s subsequent batter single.

And, of course, there was Verdugo, who came to bat on Opening Day with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning in a tied game against Ryan Pressley.

Instead of trying to hit a grand slam, he lofted a fly ball high enough to left field to score Judge on a sacrifice fly.

“It’s a typical situational approach there, where less is more, and ‘Hey, I know I need to hit the ball to do this job, hit the ball a little bit in the majority of the field. Raise it,”’ manager Aaron Boone said. “Usually when you’re doing this, you’re in a better position to take care of mistakes that turn out to be pops and things like that. I thought it was a great at-bat, great situational awareness. It’s a winning play.”

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