Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this blazing Monday, July 2.
Since joining the Red Sox, David Price has seldom done well against the Yankees. Coming into their contest he had been 0–4 with an 8.72 ERA at Yankee Stadium. Last night he continued his run of poor performances, giving 8 runs in less than 4 innings as the Yankees took an 11-1 win. The Yankees sent 6 home runs out of the lot, 5 off the hard-tagged Price. By the end he must have felt like Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica after being demolished by George Foreman. Of the 6 home runs, 3 were by Aaron Hicks, a man lost in the shuffle with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Another of the long-distance clouts was hit by an even more unlikely bomber, Kyle Higashioka. His teammates call him Higgy, so I’ll do so in this space.
The fun started early as Aaron Judge blasted an “ungodly shot” into Monument Park before most of the 46,795 to witness the event had gotten over the George Washington Bridge. With the score 1-0, Gleyber Torres showed the fans his specialty-the 3-run home run, also in the first inning. He has 6 3-run clouts now, more than anybody in the game. As the Red Sox had done on Saturday, the Yankees notched 4 runs in the first and 2 in the 2nd. With Luis Severino on his game, they could have stopped there, but when this team gets going they don’t know the meaning of “Stop.” When Severino threw his first pitch, after 8 PM it was still 91 degrees on 161st Street in the Bronx. Hicks’ first shot came in the second inning. Higgy’s home run in the 4th happened to be his first MLB base knock of any kind. Two batters later Hicks drove the embattled Price from the hill to thundering jeers from the Yankees’ supporters who can be counted on to rub salt in wounded egoes. As for Higgy, the team gave him the traditional silent treatment any rookie of whatever age gets when he slugs his first home run. With that ritual over the next ritual-a dog pile-began in the dugout.
The craziness went to the next level when Aaron Hicks appeared at the dish in the last of the 8th. Price had gone to the showers and probably was searching google for instructions on how to get into the witness protection program. By now Hector Velazquez was on the bump when the switch-hitting Hicks took one out of the yard. 2 batting righty, 1 batting lefty. Only a few switch-hitting Yankees have hit 3 home runs in a game. The last one was Mark Teixeira back in 2010-also against the Red Sox. Going further back, Tony Clark did the deed in 2004. He’s now the head of the players’ union. The other two switch-hitters with 3 home runs did it in the original House that Ruth Built even before its 1974-75 face lift. Tom Tresh did it in 1965 and Mickey Mantle hit 3 in a game in 1955.
Kyle Higashioka or Higgy’s 4th-inning home run deserves its own special mention. He had been drafted back in 2008 when George W. Bush was president and George Steinbrenner III was still alive. Higgy chose the Yankees over a college education at University of California (or Cal) in Berkeley. He might have gotten to the top sooner but for two injuries. He lost one season to Tommy John surgery and another to a broken thumb. He reached the show in April, 2017. He got his shot after Gary Sanchez was hurt. He went 0 for 18 in that stretch. He rejoined the Yankees last week after Sanchez again landed on the DL. Higgy has learned enough Japanese that he can communicate with Masahiro Tanaka once he comes off the DL. Higgy also knows enough Spanish to work with Severino, Domingo German and any other Latin American pitchers the Yankees may bring into the fold while Higgy remains there. His wicked shot was the 4th of 5 long balls Price gave up. He’s not the only Red Sox pitcher beleaguered in this way by the Yankees. In fact he’s in good company. The Yankees have pounded Josh Beckett and Dennis Eckersley to the tune of 5 home runs in a game.
The season continues with both the Yankees and Red Sox in action against topnotch foes. The Yankees face the Braves, so they can’t think too much about taking 2 of 3 from the Sox this weekend. Boston heads to Washington to face the Nats in another city where humidity and traffic are twin demons to all who live or visit there. In the Bronx, the Yanks match wits with the wily Anibal Sanchez. Anibal has beaten them 4 times out of 5 decisions among 6 starts. His foe will be the youthful Jonathan Loaisiga, or “Johnny Lasagna” to his teammates. Johnny has 2 wins in his 3 MLB starts. In the nation’s capital, the Red Sox trot out Rick Porcello against one of the game’s elite, Max Scherzer. The two were teammates in Detroit once upon a time but when they oppose each other tonight that will be ancient history. Scherzer struck out 45 men in 5 starts in June. Even as I write this, I wonder about the importance of pitchers’ strikeout numbers in the brand of baseball that has sprung up over the last couple of decades. Strikeouts are easier for pitchers to get as batters swing for the fences and forget the fundamentals of moving runners over and trying to manufacture runs. While I’m a Yankee fan, I have my doubts about how they can last in the playoffs. In 2002 and 2012 they hit 134 home runs before the All-Star break. This year they have broken that mark with a week to go. That won’t help them against the Charlie Mortons and Justin Verlanders of the league. They found that out a year ago. With that in mind, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman continues to work the phones hoping to find a pitcher without having to give up too many of either his big bats or guys from AAA Scranton or AA Trenton that another team might covet. At 50, Cashman has held his present job for 20 years, which in itself is something of a miracle. For decades George Steinbrenner fired managers and general managers more often than I change shirts. Cashman is under contract through 2022. Should he last that long he will be the longest serving general manager in Yankees’ history. Whether he does will depend heavily on what happens over the next few seasons.0