NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter needed 155 plate appearances with the bases loaded before the Yankees captain cracked the first and only grand slam of his storied career. At least in that department, Anthony Volpe has already matched his idol.
Volpe launched his first big league grand slam, helping the Bombers continue to pound on the Athletics in an 11-3 rout on Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, completing New York’s first sweep of the season.
“I was just pumped to get those runs in for the team,” Volpe said. “I think we’re just staying consistent, having really good at-bats. The more we do that, the results will follow. I feel like the last week, we’ve been playing really well. I kind of felt like it was coming.”
With another American League East showdown against the Rays on deck, a date with Oakland’s beleaguered pitching staff served as a welcome tonic for the ailing Yankees bats. Harrison Bader and DJ LeMahieu also homered Wednesday, and the Bombers have scored seven or more runs in four consecutive games.
“We wanted to come in here and take care of business at home,” said Yankees captain Aaron Judge. “Every team in the big leagues, no matter what their record is, is a good ballclub. You’ve got to go out there and win every game. This is getting us ready for another big series with the Rays; we’re looking forward to it.”
Volpe’s fifth-inning shot off A’s reliever Rico García marked the 22-year-old’s fourth long ball since earning a place on the Yankees’ Opening Day roster, coming off his bat with an exit velocity of 107.4 mph and traveling a Statcast-calculated 419 feet to the loading dock in center field.
It was the brand of drive that Volpe had been patiently seeking, having hit into more than his share of rough luck lately. Left fielder Tony Kemp took away a possible extra-base hit in the second inning on Wednesday, ranging toward the left-field line for a sliding grab. The solution: Hit one where nobody could grab it.
“It’s definitely in there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You go out the front door like he did at 107 [mph]; that’s a pretty good poke. We know he’s got power. We know he can hit the ball out to all fields. What it turns into, I don’t know yet. We’ll see.”
Volpe grinned as he rounded the bases, pointing skyward before touching home plate, then exchanging high-fives and fist bumps with teammates.
“I knew I got it pretty good, but you honestly never know,” Volpe said. “It was nice to see it go over.”
Coincidentally, the blast looked a lot like Jeter’s first career grand slam on June 18, 2005, off the Cubs’ Joe Borowski -- directed almost toward the same left-center-field area of Yankee Stadium, albeit the version located across East 161st Street. The future Hall of Fame shortstop was then eight days shy of his 31st birthday.
At 22 years and 12 days, Volpe became the youngest Yankee to hit a grand slam at any iteration of Yankee Stadium; Mickey Mantle (July 26, 1952, July 29, 1952, and July 6, 1953) and Melky Cabrera (July 5, 2006) all were younger when they hit slams on the road for New York.
Volpe became the club’s first rookie to hit a grand slam in a game he played at shortstop, improving to 3-for-3 with seven RBIs and a walk with the bases loaded during his brief career.
“He’s been hitting the ball hard all season,” Judge said. “The average you see up there [.205] isn’t right. He swings the bat well; he has a great approach. He’s just been a little unlucky, so I was pretty happy he got rewarded with that little granny there.”
Bader hit a three-run homer in the first inning off A’s rookie Kyle Muller, helping support rookie starter Jhony Brito, who held Oakland to a pair of solo homers over 4 1/3 innings. LeMahieu tagged García for a two-run shot in the fifth, preceding Volpe’s slam.
The lopsided score invited the Yanks to turn their attention to the upcoming set with the Rays. It’s a rematch of the action this past weekend at Tropicana Field, where the visitors dropped two of three games in a taut series in which tempers flared and one run decided each game.
“Having just played them gives you some confidence. I would like to think that’s fresh in our minds,” said Bader, who is batting .429 (12-for-28) with three homers and 11 RBIs in eight games since coming off the injured list. “There’s obviously a lot of history there. Listen, we know what they do. They’ve got a really talented team over there. I’m certainly looking forward to it."