Coming off the bench, with the game on the line, one of the Yankees' most consistent and dependable players delivered.
Gio Urshela blasted a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead over the Baltimore Orioles.
New York went on to win by that score, their 10th win in their last 13 games.
After a one-out walk from Kyle Higashioka to put the tying run on base, Urshela was summoned to hit for shortstop Tyler Wade. Baltimore responded with a pitching change, bringing on right-hander Travis Lakins from the bullpen.
Those two proceeded to battle it out for nine pitches. Urshela quickly fell behind, but was able to keep himself in the fight with four straight foul balls with two strikes.
Finally, Lakins left a pitch in a spot that Urshela could drive. He barreled up a cutter on the outside corner, driving it over the right-center field wall. The home run soared 414 feet to the opposite field, leaving his bat at 104.3 mph. It was Urshela's fifth home run of the season.
"Off the bench or not, it was one of those just really good at-bats and obviously at a huge spot in the game down a couple runs with runners out there," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the win. "It was just a big time at bat by a really good player."
Urshela wasn't in the starting lineup due to the lingering effects of his left knee injury, sustained last week in the series against the Houston Astros. Boone wanted to give Urshela another day to rest, but mentioned before first pitch that he had every intention of using the third baseman in a big spot.
The 29-year-old certainly made the most of his late-inning opportunity.
"You got to be ready all the time from pitch one. I always say that," Urshela explained. "I was warming up like innings before that and just trying to keep my body warm and be ready for every opportunity."
Urshela said that he knew Baltimore's reliever relies heavily on his cutter, so he was looking for that pitch throughout the at-bat. His goal was to use the entire field, swinging at a pitch in the zone.
It took all nine pitches for Lakins to miss with one and Urshela didn't miss it.
Short of a spectacular defensive play from the infielder, or a clutch at-bat like Friday night, Aaron Judge articulated that Urshela's contributions to this team often fly under the radar.
"A lot of his games go unnoticed which is pretty crazy," Judge explained. "He'll have a sneaky three-hit night, a sneaky two-hit night with a big double play for us. He's just a consistent, all-around player."
Judge emphasized the difficulty of coming off the bench cold and delivering like Urshela did. Even in a game when Judge homered twice, the slugger said Urshela was responsible for the swing of the night.
"Gio made it look easy tonight," Judge said. "He was up there swinging, up there battling and especially on a tough reliever like that. He got the job done for us."
Since coming over to the Yankees in 2019, Urshela has been a revelation for the Bombers, quietly producing all across the lineup and on both sides of the ball. This year has been no different. The third baseman leads the Yankees with a .298 batting average (34-for-114), posting an .829 OPS with 19 RBI and 11 runs.
Urshela assured that his knee is feeling better after all the rest and treatment he's had over the last couple days. With injuries impacting the rest of the starting lineup, and several position players underperforming, Urshela is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle for this club going forward.
Boone isn't surprised that Urshela is contributing when called upon. In fact, he's known that this is the type of production Urshela is capable of providing since the defensive wizard joined the club two years ago.
"He's a really good player. I mean, that's all we've ever seen from him," he said. "He has been an absolute glue guy for us, he's hit everywhere in the order for us, gotten a ton of big hits and obviously he's special defensively as well."
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