NEW YORK — The New York Yankees made a pounding statement Wednesday night with the help of two Venezuelans as they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in a two-game series at Yankee Stadium.
There was a buzz in the air as the Yankees faced the Pirates, a buzz that circulated around two of baseball’s most prominent and powerful players, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
With a momentous win and historic hit the night prior, the Yankees team fed off the infectious energy that lingered. Remnants of grand slam ambitions remained intact as the Yankees loaded the bases in the first inning, setting up rookie Oswaldo Cabrera to launch one into the right field bleachers for his first career grand slam.
A grand slam to end Tuesday night’s game in the ninth inning and a grand slam to start Wednesday night’s game in the first inning.
The Guarenas, Venezuela native, had an impressive night as he drove in a career-high five RBI, helping the Yankees sum 14 runs to secure a 14-2 win. As a 23-year-old rookie, Cabrera attributes his on-the-field success to a day-to-day grind that has helped build his confidence to provide positive results in big spots.
“I feel so amazing,” Cabrera said as he continued contributing to the Yankees’ September success. “We’re playing so good right now, we are trying to compete everyday … like yesterday, we showed yesterday we’re just competing every inning. So, right now, with the team, myself, I feel so good.”
Cabrera’s grand slam gave the Yankees an early 4-0 lead. A lead that would not falter. Cabrera emphasized the importance of putting pressure on their opponents early in the game “(I) talked about that before the game, get ahead in the game. And, it happened.”
Even as he puts on a show in the box, Cabrera’s abilities to handle the timid outfield have showcased his many talents. They can factor in Yankee manager Aaron Boone’s decision to carry the rookie onto a potential postseason roster.
“I don’t think he can say enough about how well he’s transitioned to the outfield,” Boone said on Cabrera’s versatile role. “I mean, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is a really talented infielder. That’s that’s playing in the corner right now in the outfield and really just handling it with a with a maturity and a confidence, that’s been great to see.”
With the Yankees never surrendering their lead, second baseman Gleyber Torres joined in on the home run party with his 22nd and 23rd home run of the season. Both came in the same inning as the Yankees wrapped around the lineup and made a late game splurge for runs, tacking on eight runs in the eighth.
Torres’ first homer was a torched 94-mph four-seamer to the opposite field, landing in the right field seats. The second homer was launched with a 106.7 exit velocity and landed 398 feet into the left-field seats. It would be Torres’ 13th multi-home run game and his third of the season. In addition, October 4, 2009, was the last time a Yankee — former Yankees third basemen Alex Rodríguez — hit two home runs in the same inning.
Preparation, practice, and consistency have been why the two Venezuelans were able to explain their recent success on the field. “I do a lot of work before the game, just to be comfy, (watch) a lot of videos and try to follow the plan,” Torres said after going 3-for-4 on the night. “Every night is different, every at-bat is different, just try to be myself with consistency, don’t so too much, just see the ball and just try to hit.”
A 30-plus minute drive separates Torres’ hometown of Caracas from the city of Gaurenas, where Cabrera was born. Yet, the connection between the two has amplified the stakes, allowing both players to succeed under the bright lights as October looms.
“Oswaldo is a really special guy. I mean, he’s from Venezuela, too. I know a long time ago (that he’s a special guy). We know what he can do every time he’s on the plate. He’s just showed tonight, with a homer, everybody just really excited and (we) just follow him…”
Torres’ September average reached .313 after his second home run. The 25-year-old has hit safely in 10 consecutive games with four home runs, 11 RBI, and three walks.
“It’s great to see Gleyber obviously continue to play at like he’s playing, have the kind of at-bats he’s had lately,” Boone said on Gleyber’s success. “They’ve been instrumental in us kind of turning around over this last couple of weeks. He’s been right in the middle of all that.”
The night’s main focus remained steadfast on Aaron Judge making history for the season day in a row. As the 30-year-old right fielder stepped into the batter’s box for each of his four at-bats, the entire stadium rose to their feet in hopes of witnessing Judge tie Yankees icon Roger Maris for the most home runs hit by an American League hitter.
However, history will have to wait as Judge went 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and two runs. His chase to tie the great Maris comes to a hold until the last series against the Boston Red Sox takes place starting Thursday, September 22, in the Bronx.
The first-place American League East team looks to continue their success with the number of games left in the season dwindling to the near single digits.
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