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One year after a Bronx bummer, the New York Yankees are relishing a 6-1 start

Wed, Apr 3, 2024
MLB News (AP)

One year after a Bronx bummer, the New York Yankees are relishing a 6-1 start

PHOENIX (AP) - One year after a rare mediocre season tested patience in the Bronx, the New York Yankees are relishing a fast start.

The scariest part for opponents? A slugger-filled lineup that includes Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo and Alex Verdugo isn't even that hot.

New York wrapped up an impressive season-opening road trip with a 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, bolting to a 6-1 start. Even more encouraging for the Yankees, those wins came against the Houston Astros and Diamondbacks, clubs expected to be playoff contenders.

"The guys are fired up and rightfully so," manager Aaron Boone said. "I'm sure the Bronx will be popping on Friday."

New York has an off day before its home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Judge hit his first homer of the season in Wednesday's win, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead with a two-run, opposite-field shot that landed in the Chase Field pool beyond the right-center wall. In the 11th, his double into the right-center gap pushed the Yankees ahead 6-4.

"You just got to keep swinging," Judge said. "It's early in the season, got to get your at-bats. Keep swinging at good pitches and if you don't get good pitches, take your walk and let the guys behind you do their job."

READ MORE Judge hits first home run of season, Yanks beat D-Backs 6-5 in 11 innings for opening 6-1 road trip Kyle Higashioka homers and throws out 2 baserunners as Padres beat Cardinals 3-2 Yankees manager Aaron Boone has a rule for new outfielder Alex Verdugo: One chain per game

The five-time All-Star entered 3 for 24 with one RBI, his fewest hits ever through six games. He hasn't been alone with his middling start - Stanton is batting .150 with 11 strikeouts in 20 at-bats, Rizzo is hitting .222 and Verdugo .160.

Soto's been the best of the bunch with a .345 average but has just two extra-base hits, low by his standards.

Now that Judge appears to be heating up, the rest may follow.

"I told him I wanted him to go visit the pool at some point in this road trip," Boone said. "Glad he checked that box. Had a really good at-bat in the 11th to give us that insurance run. He's getting there.

"With Aaron, it's a matter of time."

Verdugo - acquired in a trade from the Red Sox during the offseason - hit his first Yankees homer on Wednesday. The 27-year-old jumped all over an elevated fastball from Kevin Ginkel, launching a no-doubt, two-run shot deep into the right-field seats.

As Verdugo rounded the bases, his teammates were barking at him like a dog, which is the one of the team's current celebrations. The outfielder said he loved it.

"Everyone in here knows we're talented, knows what we can do," Verdugo said. "You've just got to go out there every day and have that dog mentality. It's not always going to come easy. You've got to sometimes fight. We've been doing a really good job of that during this run."

The Yankees have also been good on the mound, despite missing ace Gerrit Cole. Led by Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil and Marcus Stroman, the pitching staff came into Wednesday's game with a 2.72 ERA, which ranks fourth in the big leagues.

New York finished with an 82-80 record last season, missing the playoffs and nearly finishing below .500 for the first time since 1992. This season's first week might be a signal that 2023 was an aberration.

"It's pretty nice," Soto said. "I won't say it makes it easier, but we have the record on our side. With a huge start, it's great for confidence as we go up to New York."

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

DAVID BRANDT Sports Reporter based in Phoenix twitter mailto "
Article Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.

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