Red-hot Yanks roll behind rejuvenated Rodón

April 10th, 2024

NEW YORK -- A convincing case can be made that needed a reset more than anyone in the Yankees' clubhouse, aiming to flush the disappointments of his first season in pinstripes while reclaiming his confidence and swagger.

As Rodón carved through a punchless Marlins lineup on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, it was a clear reminder of the dominant performances the Yankees hoped to import. The lefty helped the Yanks become the first team this season to reach double-digit wins, as they won their fourth straight game in a 3-2 victory.

“It’s always important for any of us to start out on a good note,” Rodón said. “I think we’re playing really good baseball right now. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and trying to take a third one from them.”

Behind Rodón’s effort and Alex Verdugo’s first Bronx homer as a Yankee, the Bombers ran their record to a Major League-best 10-2, matching their best 12-game start in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). On each of the previous three occasions (1922, 1949 and 2003), the Yanks went on to win the pennant.

“You can’t take [wins] off the board, and they matter now as much as any time,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s early and there’s a long way to go, but any time you can play a stretch of games like this, you’d sure sign up for that.”

Facing a Marlins squad that has now lost 11 of 12, Rodón pitched into the seventh inning, departing with the bases loaded and no outs, thanks, in part, to an Anthony Rizzo error. Though two runs later scored, both were unearned.

As he exited, Rodón received a warm ovation from the announced crowd of 37,680. Those types of receptions were elusive last year, when he battled injury and ineffectiveness after signing a six-year, $162 million contract.

“It’s a step in the right direction today,” Rodón said. “Just keep going. The confidence is growing, for sure.”

Ian Hamilton, who tossed two scoreless innings in relief, said that Rodón seems to have “a little more drive in his eyes” this season. Verdugo noted that Rodón “is really pitching now” with his four-seamer, slider, cutter and changeup, saying that he “is able to keep lefties and righties honest.”

Scattering four hits and two Walks, Rodón struck out six while lowering his ERA to 1.72 through three starts.

“He continues to stack really good days, and he’s been doing that for months now,” Boone said. “He’s in a really good place, and he’s really competitive right now. He’s done a really good job of pouring into the work he needs to do to put his body in position to go out there and perform.”

A first-year Yankee still settling into his new surroundings, Verdugo coined a nickname for this squad during their season-opening series in Houston, when he referred to his teammates in the lineup as “dawgs.”

Scores of swiftly printed T-shirts greeted the club upon its arrival in New York following an encouraging 6-1 road trip, and Verdugo said that fans have kept that energy by barking at him from the left-field seats.

“I love it, man. To see everybody running with it has been a lot of fun,” Verdugo said. “Who doesn’t like to bark, right?”

Verdugo heard more woofs in the second inning, dropping to one knee to admire a solo shot off left-hander A.J. Puk that reached the short porch in right field.

“It was kind of a weird one. I’ve hit a home run here before,” Verdugo said. “It didn’t really sink in until [Aaron] Judge said to me, ‘That’s your first one here, right?’ It was nice, man, to do it early and get the lead off of it. To help the game settle in a little bit was huge.”

Giancarlo Stanton added an opposite-field RBI double in the fifth inning off Puk, who lasted 4 2/3 innings. Juan Soto extended New York’s lead with a run-scoring single in the sixth, and Clay Holmes worked the ninth for his fifth save.

“I’m pleased with how the group is competing, how they’ve come together,” Boone said. “We’ve got to keep that same focus going.”