Frazier's playoff career starts off on high note

October 6th, 2020

watched the replay of his third-inning home run with a measure of bemusement in the aftermath of the Yankees’ 9-3 victory in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Monday night, wondering if he had ever hit a higher pitch out of the ballpark.

His quick trigger on a 95.6 mph Blake Snell fastball provided an opportunity for the 26-year-old Frazier to showcase the bat speed that general manager Brian Cashman once described as “legendary,” producing the first postseason hit of his career and earning a spot in the lineup for Game 2 against the Rays.

“It’s not often you hit that pitch, because it’s so difficult,” Frazier said. “It’s a tough one to hit, and it’s probably the first one in my career I’ve ever done like that. It came in a big time, and I was really excited.”

Frazier finished the regular season in a 1-for-20 skid and was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance during the AL Wild Card Series sweep of the Indians. Yankees manager Aaron Boone opted to start the right-handed hitting Frazier in Game 1 against the left-handed Snell, and the skipper kept that matchup in play for Game 2 against right-hander Tyler Glasnow.

“I feel like maybe Clint has a chance to get on one,” Boone said. “Glasnow is more of a reverse split guy, a little tougher on lefties overall. Like it's been every game, it was a close call for me, but I felt like Clint was the matchup today.”

During the regular season, Glasnow limited lefties to a .606 OPS, permitting a .737 OPS to righties. Opponents managed identical .200 batting averages from each side.

Frazier joked that he “blacked out” while running the bases for Monday’s homer, saying that he is thrilled for a second chance to complete his year strong. Frazier batted .267/.394/.511 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 39 games this year, producing a 149 OPS+.

“The last few weeks had been frustrating for me at the plate, and I didn't finish the season the way I wanted to,” Frazier said. “It was big for me, big for everyone. It's just really exciting to be a part of.”

High and tight

With no shortage of tense history between these two clubs, the Yankees took notice when Gio Urshela received an up-and-in fastball from Rays reliever John Curtiss in the ninth inning of Game 1, two pitches after Giancarlo Stanton’s grand slam.

Asked if he took exception to the pitch, Urshela said, “Not really.” Because of his vantage point from the third-base dugout, Boone said that he didn’t get a good look at the pitch until postgame.

“I didn’t realize how close it was until I saw it later,” Boone said. “Our focus is really on the game and trying to do what we can to not get distracted by that, and just try and win these games.”

Slam Diego

Stanton’s grand slam in Game 1 was the first by a Yankees designated hitter in the postseason. He was the 14th Yankee to hit a postseason grand slam, and the second in as many games, joining Urshela’s clout in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Indians.

“I can’t really put it past, it’s So Cal,” Stanton said. “I grew up about an hour and a half, two hours away. That was the first game that my parents were able to come to, so that helps.”

Bombers bits

Major League Baseball reinstated right-hander Domingo Germán from the restricted list on Tuesday. The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 40. Germán is not eligible to participate in any postseason series because he was on the restricted list as of this year’s date for postseason eligibility (Sept. 15).

This date in Yankees history

Oct. 6, 1926: Babe Ruth went 3-for-3 with three homers, four runs, four RBIs and two walks in the Yankees’ 10-5 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series. Ruth remains one of only four players in Major League history to hit three homers in a World Series game.