NEW YORK -- As the classic Frank Sinatra lyrics go, Didi Gregorius' power numbers were riding high in April, then shot down in May. That's life, but here's some good news for the Yankees: their shortstop believes that he is about to be back on top in June.Gregorius had not
NEW YORK -- As the classic Frank Sinatra lyrics go, Didi Gregorius' power numbers were riding high in April, then shot down in May. That's life, but here's some good news for the Yankees: their shortstop believes that he is about to be back on top in June.
Gregorius had not homered since May 23 and had gone deep just once since receiving an April 27 curtain call on the road. The 28-year-old gave his home crowd something to cheer about, taking Tanner Roark deep twice and helping the Yankees to a 3-0 victory over the Nationals on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
"I was just getting to know myself through that slump," Gregorius said. "I always battle. The hits weren't coming, but I hit the ball hard. I wanted success and to get on base for the team, but it's a process. All the guys in here trust you and help you and try to keep you relaxed and play the game right."
New York won for the 10th time in 12 games behind Gregorius' fourth career multihomer game and his third of the season, the last of which came on April 16 vs. Miami. With homers in the second and sixth innings, he became the first shortstop in franchise history to tally three multihomer games in a single season.
"I thought he had a really good batting practice," manager Aaron Boone said. "The ball was really jumping off his bat. I think when Didi's at his best, he really is into the ground. His feet really drive into the ground, especially on that second one. You see his back leg just kind of rotate, but he's strong into the ground in a real powerful position and hit a no-doubter. It's good to see him really impact it."
Catcher Austin Romine also lifted a sacrifice fly to account for the Yankees' offense in Roark's six-inning, six-hit effort, supporting Carsten Sabathia, who hurled 5 2/3 innings of scoreless, four-hit ball to pick up his fourth win. Sabathia reached a milestone of his own, recording his 1,500th strikeout as a Yankee with a swinging whiff of Michael A. Taylor in the fourth.
"You've just got to pitch all around," Sabathia said. "They have a great lineup, top to bottom, and a lot of power. You've just got to move the ball around, in and out, and try to be aggressive in the zone. It's something I'm always trying to do to get swings early in the count."
Behind Sabathia, New York's bullpen continued to excel, extending its scoreless streak to 21 2/3 innings with Chad Green, Dellin Betances and Albertin Chapman all turning in quality work. The Yankees improved to 23-9 at Yankee Stadium this season, owning a .719 winning percentage that ranks as the best home mark in the Majors.
Gregorius was named the American League's Player of the Month for April after hitting 10 homers with 30 RBIs, both single-month career highs, but his statistics dipped precipitously by enduring an 0-for-30 stretch in early May.
"I think there was a level of [being] a little unlucky," Boone said. "I thought he was still barreling up some balls, but not quite impacting them certainly like he was in April. I don't know if he'll ever have a month like April, where he was just homer after homer. That was a special month that he put together."
Gregorius has been swinging the bat better of late, hitting .313 (15-for-48) over his last dozen games to slug out of a 4-for-67 (.060) slide.
"If it was just about one person, then the team will not be doing good," Gregorius said. "But everybody picks each other up. That's one thing that we always have here. One guy is struggling today, but somebody is going to pick him up anyway. That's the thing about a team. It goes around. Everybody is helping each other out to get a 'W.'"
Sabathia was confused by the ovation that followed his fourth-inning strikeout of Taylor. Romine pointed to the large video screen in center field, which announced that Sabathia had collected his 1,500th strikeout as a Yankee. By doing so in his 267th game, Sabathia became the fastest to join a group that also includes Red Ruffing, Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte.
"Everybody kept telling me I'm close to 3,000," Sabathia said. "I don't know how close [2,893 through Tuesday], but I didn't know how close I was to 1,500 as a Yankee. That's a cool stat. It was fun to have that happen during the game."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Second baseman Gleyber Torres made a dazzling play in the top of the third inning, ranging into shallow right field to snare an Anthony Rendon popup over his left shoulder. The play was made more difficult as Torres had to avoid contact with right fielder Aaron Judge, who was coming in on the play but never called for the ball, according to Torres.
"I just tried to catch the ball," Torres said. "Judge is big. I don't want to collide with him. I'm happy that I helped CC and made a great catch."
The Yankees will conclude their two-game Interleague series with the Nationals on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, handing the ball to resurgent right-hander Sonny Gray. Gray is coming off eight frames of scoreless, two-hit ball at Toronto, striking out eight in the Yankees' 3-0, 13-inning win. Gray is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last four starts, holding opponents to a .193 batting average. The Nationals are promoting top pitching prospect Erick Fedde to make the start.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.