NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius did his part to make sure that all of the fans in attendance at Yankee Stadium got their money's worth on Sunday afternoon.The Yankees shortstop flashed his leather in the top of the fifth and blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth
NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius did his part to make sure that all of the fans in attendance at Yankee Stadium got their money's worth on Sunday afternoon.
The Yankees shortstop flashed his leather in the top of the fifth and blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth that helped the Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Rangers. New York took three of the four games from Texas.
After making an impressive backhanded play in the first inning, throwing the ball across his body as he ran toward the third-base line, Gregorius put his defensive talent on full display again in the fifth. With one out, he took a few steps to his right and slid on his left leg to field Delino DeShields' ground ball. Then, in one swift motion, he got to his feet and fired the ball across the diamond in time to record the out as the crowd chanted "Didi."
"Oh, man. He did it all," manager Aaron Boone said. "I told him, when he went to the ground with DeShields, I'm like, 'No, no, can't go to the ground.' And then he pulls it off and I think I left the top of the dugout. He made some unbelievable plays all day. Obviously a couple hits, big homer, he's a really good player."
Gregorius said that in what he considered to be one of the best plays he has ever made, he didn't have time to look up at first base after fielding the ball, making for a blind throw across the diamond.
"I played a little bit in," Gregorius said. "I knew he had some speed, so I knew I didn't have much time to play with the ball before I got it over to first. I think that played a little bit into helping to get him out at first.
"It was some awkward movement going on there, so I started laughing when I saw the video. But I got the out, so that was important."
The chants didn't die off for long, as Gregorius proved he could do it all in the bottom half of the inning, launching his 21st blast of the year off Rangers' starter Martin Perez -- who allowed seven runs through five-plus innings.
"Really active day for me," Gregorius said. "I got a lot of ground balls and got on base a couple times for the team, so I think offensively and defensively, that's something you want to do every day. So it's a really good day."
Aaron Hicks also knocked in two in the fifth with an RBI single to center and Brett Gardner tacked on a run in the sixth with a single to left. Giancarlo Stanton got the offense started in the first inning with his 30th blast of the season.
Carsten Sabathia tossed a one-hit gem, allowing three walks and striking out seven through six innings and earning his first win since July 4, against Atlanta.
"Even when he got in some trouble and labored in a couple of those innings, he was able to make a big pitch, it seemed like, every time he needed it," said Boone. "And then had a couple of really quick innings that allowed him to go back out there for the sixth. Just another good effort by CC and a good way to finish off this series."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sonny Gray allowed two runs in the seventh, on a groundout by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and DeShields' infield single, before allowing back-to-back base hits to start the eighth, prompting Boone to call on Jonathan Holder.
Holder struck out Jurickson Profar and forced Robinson Chirinos to pop out to first to get two quick outs, but he then walked the bases loaded for Kiner-Falefa. On a 2-2 count and the crowd on its collective feet, Holder struck out Kiner-Falefa on a 94.9-mph fastball to escape the jam.
"I think the one thing he does really well is he pounds the strike zone, and there's kind of a fearlessness to which he goes about things out there," Boone said. "Today I thought he had a really good changeup, kind of following up his fastball that he worked up in the zone a little bit."
With this win, the Yankees clinched their 27th consecutive season with a winning home record. That's the second-longest streak in Major League history, trailing the Yankees' 47-year streak from 1918-64.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After getting the offense started on Saturday with a blast in the first inning, Stanton followed suit in the first inning on Sunday, connecting on a 2-2 pitch for a 112.2-mph laser, according to Statcast™, to the seats in left-center to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
The home run was Stanton's 30th of the season, the most by a Yankee in his first season with the team since 2009, when Mark Teixeira hit 39. It was his fifth long ball in his last six games and 16th homer with a two-strike count.
"We're just seeing a large body of work now that's been really consistent, and I just continue to be impressed," Boone said. "Even if he doesn't have a great at-bat, he kind of never gives an at-bat away, and he's just been winning so many pitches over the last month or two that he's really making the pitcher work, and when he's getting his mistakes he's doing damage."
HE SAID IT
"I think it's been since he got here. Taking over for who he took over for and being able to have three 20-homer seasons in a row, I mean, it's just incredible. What he's done to turn around this team and rebuild it, he's been the number one key. If he wouldn't have come in and did what he did the last three or four years, we'd still be talking about [Derek Jeter] and how we needed leadership and all that stuff, but he's erased it. So you've got to give him credit for that." -- Sabathia, on Gregorius' leadership
Luis Severino will take the mound in Monday's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Mets, a makeup of the July 22 game that was postponed due to inclement weather. Severino picked up his first win since July 7 in his start against the White Sox on Wednesday, allowing three runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts through seven frames. In 10 2/3 career innings against the Mets, he has yet to allow an earned run and has recorded 14 strikeouts. Right-hander Jacob deGrom will get the start for the Mets.
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.