In his second day with the Yankees, first baseman Anthony Rizzo was front and center once again as he helped New York defeat the Marlins, 4-2, at loanDepot park on Saturday night.
Rizzo went 2-for-2 in the game, reached base five times and hit his second home run as a Yankee. Since joining the Yankees on Friday, Rizzo is 4-for-5 with three walks, one hit by pitch and five runs scored.
“He is a keeper,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “What can you say? He has been terrific with a couple of home runs. He has had really good at-bats each and every time. He was on every time tonight, and he’s really good over there at first base.
“The heat of the chase has definitely invigorated him, and he has come in and fit into the room.”
Boone is not surprised that Rizzo has fit in with the Yankees in just two days. Rizzo has a presence to him and the ability to connect to everyone on the team.
“He strikes that balance between being a real gamer, but having that easy going, laid-back way about him,” Boone said. “I think everyone has embraced him right away. He feels incredibly comfortable growing up as a Yankee fan and being invigorated right into a pennant race. I think he is one of those guys that truly lives for it.”
Rizzo said the dog days of August are about to hit and it’s going to be a grind. He also said it’s a different game when the month of September rolls around.
“Every game intensifies as you move forward,” Rizzo said. “It’s fun. It’s what you play baseball for. Being able to come to New York and join this team that has had a lot of success in years past is amazing, and it’s a good feeling.”
After being hit by a pitch in the second inning Saturday, Rizzo scored on a single by Rougned Odor. Three innings later, Rizzo was the reason the Yankees broke a 2-2 tie. He led off with a single and later scored on a wild pitch by right-hander Anthony Bender.
In the seventh inning, Rizzo flexed his muscles and hit a mammoth home run off reliever Steven Okert to increase the lead to two runs. The ball traveled 410 feet, according to Statcast. If he homers in the series finale Sunday, Rizzo will match the longest home run streak to start a Yankees career, Dave Kingman's three-game streak in 1977.
Already, Rizzo has done something no other Yankees player ever has. He’s the first to reach base eight times in his first two games with the franchise.
“I can tell you just having [Rizzo] around here -- it’s a good trade,” Yankees right-hander Domingo Germán said through interpreter Marlon Abreu. “You can see the kind of player he is. Defensively, he is showing how important defense is. He is a good hitter, as well. Friendly person. Having him around has changed in a positive way.”
Rizzo showed his new team that he could pick it at first base. In the second inning, the Marlins had runners on first and second with one out. With Lewis Brinson at the plate, Germán threw the ball to the plate. After catcher Gary Sánchez caught the ball, he threw to Rizzo, who quickly tagged Bryan De La Cruz for the second out of the inning. Brinson then struck out to end the threat.
Rizzo gave credit to Sánchez for getting the out.
“[Sánchez] is looking at me, and I kind of looked at him. I tried to give him a made-up sign,” Rizzo said. “… We both communicated it, and [it] was a perfect throw. I think he gets all the credit on that. … Domingo was in a jam, and we [got] out of it two pitches after that. It was definitely good for us.”
After Sunday’s game, Rizzo will be playing in Yankee Stadium against the Orioles. He can’t wait to play in front of the team’s fans.
“I went there in ’14, and it was freezing cold for a doubleheader in April,” Rizzo said. “I’m definitely excited to see that atmosphere, be on the home side of it. Just get there and get situated -- see the clubhouse, see how the operation works.”