A young standout infielder was the hitting star of the Yankees’ 5-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, but it wasn’t the one many of the 43,628 fans at Yankee Stadium had come to see.
The pregame attraction had been Gleyber Torres, the jewel of the Yankees’ farm system, who was recalled Saturday night from the club’s Class AAA affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help kick-start a team that has been spinning its wheels over the first three weeks of the season.
But once the game began, the promise of Torres was eclipsed by the performance of Miguel Andujar, who arrived in the Bronx with less fanfare on April 1 but has made his presence felt.
In his 13th game of the season, and the 18th of his major-league career, Andujar had four hits, including two doubles, while scoring a run and driving in another. His offensive contributions bolstered the efforts of starting pitcher Luis Severino, who worked seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball to earn his fourth win of the season and propel the 11-9 Yankees — who won three of four games from the Blue Jays this weekend — to two games above .500 for the first time since April 4.
“We knew he was going to hit,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “Now we’re starting to see him gaining some traction. Even walking up to the plate, there’s a confidence to him, there’s a belief that he’s going to get something done no matter who the pitcher is out there.”
Andujar, 23, displayed that confidence to Didi Gregorius before the game when he told the Yankees shortstop, “I’m feeling good today.”
Replied Gregorius: “O.K. Show me.”
Andujar started doing exactly that in the second inning, when he stepped in against Jaime Garcia and ripped a double past Blue Jays third baseman Yangervis Solarte. He and Gary Sanchez scored two batters later on Austin Romine’s double to right.
That gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead; they had taken a first-inning lead on a solo home run by Gregorius, his sixth of the season, tying him with Aaron Judge for the team lead.
Gregorius reported that Andujar’s confidence was nothing new.
“He’s been saying the same thing to me before the last two or three games,” Gregorius said. “And he’s been backing it up.”
Over the last six games, Andujar has 13 hits in 24 at-bats and has raised his batting average to .308 from .107 leading into the Yankees’ game against Detroit on April 13. And the Yankees believe his defense at third base, one of the main reasons they did not bring him to the majors at the end of spring training, has been better than adequate. Good enough, in fact, that in the last week the team had Torres shift from third to second base so he and Andujar could play in the same infield.
“I think he’s worked really hard at his defense, and he continues to get better at it,” Boone said. “He’s played better than I anticipated he would and for the most part he’s making the plays. And I think he’s still not close to where he will be.”
Although he was a leading prospect in the Yankees farm system, Andujar seemed destined to spend much of the year in Class AAA, where he has only played 58 games, when the Yankees acquired veteran infielders Neil Walker and Brandon Drury during spring training.
But an injury to outfielder Billy McKinney necessitated Andujar’s call-up, and Drury’s subsequent trip to the disabled list with migraines and blurred vision forced Andujar into the starting lineup.
By the time Torres arrived at the Yankees’ clubhouse on Sunday, Andujar was practically a veteran, having started 12 of his team’s last 14 games. As such, he found himself in the position of giving advice to the newbie in the Yankees clubhouse.
“I kept it simple,” he said. “I told him, ‘Just go out and enjoy the day. The game here is the same.”’
Published at Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:26:08 +0000