Yankees manager Aaron Boone saw a breakout game coming from Gio Urshela. What the third baseman did at the plate on Sunday, however, was unprecedented.
Urshela had four hits in New York's extra-inning victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, finishing a triple shy of the cycle with three RBI.
"You look at his at-bats, a lot more hard contact, he's obviously thrown some hits out there. In the last game in New York, he smoked a couple balls," Boone said after the game. "I feel like he's been kind of getting close the last few days. Obviously, breaks through in a big way."
Urshela's long ball, his first of the year, came in the third inning. Ambushing a first-pitch cutter from Rays right-hander Michael Wacha, Urshela put a charge into one, sending a two-run blast off the top of the batter's eye.
The "bomb," as Boone called it, sizzled off Urshela's bat at 108.1, soaring 453 feet.
Four frames later, Urshela poked a single through the right side, getting inside a pitch on the inside corner to flip it past a diving second baseman. Next, Urshela bounced a two-strike slider up the middle and off the glove of shortstop Willy Adames, scampering to second for a double as the baseball trickled into shallow right field.
A three-hit day was already a day to remember for Urshela—who entered play on Sunday with a .231 batting average—but the third baseman wasn't done.
After the Yankees took the lead in the top of the 10th—second baseman Rougned Odor and catcher Gary Sánchez stroked back-to-back RBI singles—Urshela ripped a line drive to right field. Bouncing off the turf, the ball got past Tampa Bay's right fielder Manuel Margot, going all the way to the wall.
Urshela wound up on third base, scoring two runs on the play. If it wasn't scored an error on Margot, who was unable to corral the high hop, it would've been a cycle for Urshela.
Asked after the game about how he feels at the plate, Urshela agreed with his skipper's assessment about breaking out offensively.
"Feeling more comfortable at the plate," he said. "Don't try to do too much, just hit the ball as hard as I can."
Urshela is now hitting .323 (10-for-31) in eight games this season. Considering eight of those base knocks have come in his last five games, the 29-year-old enters New York's next series—in Dunedin against the Blue Jays—as one of the Yankees' hottest hitters.
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