The Yankees had not scored more than two runs in each of their previous four games, but a pair of solo shots helped them end that streak in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Guardians at Yankee Stadium.
Cleveland took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, but Anthony Volpe put the Yankees on the board in the sixth when he homered off fellow rookie Tanner Bibee. Gleyber Torres proceeded to knock Bibee out of the game before Anthony Rizzo tied things at two with an RBI single off New York native James Karinchak.
“Just got into a good count and tried to get a pitch I could drive,” Volpe said of his third career homer, which sparked the Yankees’ lineup and the home crowd.
Two of Volpe’s home runs have gone over the short right field fence in the Bronx, including Tuesday’s. Aaron Boone said that the 21-year-old’s ability to go the other way for power will suit him well moving forward.
“If you’re gonna have a career here, you want to be able to do that,” the manager said. “It’s good when you can use the entire field anywhere, but especially here.”
An inning later, Willie Calhoun cranked a Karinchak curveball for his first home run as a Yankee. It was also his first longball since April 11 of last year.
Calhoun, who struggled with anxiety at the plate the last few years thanks to bone-breaking pitches, called the dinger a “special homer.”
“Yankee Stadium, to be able to hit a home run here is pretty cool,” he continued. “But just to overcome all the things that I’ve overcame the last few years and kind of put it behind me in the rearview mirror, and to be able to do it at this stage, is a pretty surreal feeling.”
The Yankees added an insurance run in the eighth thanks to two stolen bases from Volpe and an RBI single from DJ LeMahieu. Volpe is now 10-for-10 on swipe attempts this season.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Boone said of Volpe’s baserunning.
While Bibee finished his first start at Yankee Stadium with two earned runs over 5.1 innings, Gerrit Cole delivered another strong start for the Yankees.
Cole wasn’t his sharpest, but the right-hander held the Guardians to two earned runs over six innings and 108 pitches. He also allowed five hits and three walks while striking out eight.
“Definitely satisfied with the effort overall. And the command was really sharp towards the end of the outing,” said Cole, who added that the Guardians laid off close pitches all night. “It was a good punch and counter punch, and I was glad to be able to get deep enough.”
Cole’s ERA now rests at 1.35 after seven starts. But the pitcher’s dazzling numbers aren’t what have impressed Boone the most this season.
“He’s done such a good job of just controlling every situation,” the skipper said. “Nothing’s speeding up at all out there. He’s just really in control of settling himself and just continuing to go execute the next pitch.”
Ron Marinaccio, Wandy Peralta and Michael King, who recorded a five-out save, followed Cole from the bullpen. The trio also earned praise from the manager a night after the pen blew up.
“We had some good, winning at-bats there when we needed them,” Boone said, “and then the bullpen did their thing.”
With the series tied and a four-game losing streak snapped, the Yankees will look for a rubber game win over the Guardians on Wednesday before a much needed off day and a weekend trip to see the first place Rays.
The Yankees have their work cut out for them, as Cleveland has an advantage with Shane Bieber opposing Clarke Schmidt. Both pitchers have faced the other team this season, as Bieber kept the Yankees to two earned runs over seven innings at Progressive Field on April 10. The ace owns a 3.11 ERA entering the series finale.
Schmidt, meanwhile, has struggled to fill the void injuries have created in the Yankees’ rotation, as the righty has a 6.84 ERA. Schmidt gave up three earned runs over four frames against the Guardians on April 12, and he most recently allowed five runs over five innings while pitching against the Rangers on April 28.
No matter what happens on Wednesday, the last place Yankees face a tall task in Tampa. Boone doesn’t want his guys worrying about the standings or the ground the team needs to gain, though.
“It doesn’t change the urgency of the day if they were .500 or 30 games ahead,” the manager said. “We gotta play well. If we play well over the long haul of the season, we’ll be in a good place at the end.”