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Minus 'big dogs,' LeMahieu comes up clutch

@BryanHoch
April 25, 2019

ANAHEIM -- DJ LeMahieu took note of the Yankees' depth on the longer bus rides this spring, impressed by the varied talent that the organization seemed to be collecting. He didn't anticipate playing alongside those fresh faces so soon, but the end result is exactly what might have been hoped

ANAHEIM -- DJ LeMahieu took note of the Yankees' depth on the longer bus rides this spring, impressed by the varied talent that the organization seemed to be collecting. He didn't anticipate playing alongside those fresh faces so soon, but the end result is exactly what might have been hoped for.

LeMahieu delivered a go-ahead ninth-inning knock as part of a three-RBI performance on Wednesday evening, helping the battered and bruised Yankees continue to embrace their "next man up" philosophy. Erasing a five-run deficit, New York posted its sixth consecutive victory, a 6-5 win over the Angels.

"We don't have our big dogs, but we're finding a way and it's a lot of fun," LeMahieu said. "We've got a lot of good players. That speaks to this organization. It's not how we drew it up in Spring Training, but there are a lot of good players that are continuing to have good at-bats and getting wins."

Mired in a 3-for-37 skid entering the game, LeMahieu completed a three-RBI performance by contributing the decisive hit off Ty Buttrey in the ninth, showing a flash of emotion to celebrate a sharp two-strike single that gave Tyler Wade an opportunity to atone for an earlier baserunning mishap.

"The way these guys are picking each other up, rallying around each other, rallying around the adversity we've had -- it's kind of become a little calling card, a battle cry in there for them," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "They're very close, they're very resilient. They're very tough."

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The Yankees improved to 8-1 in their last nine games despite an ineffective start from CC Sabathia, who had a large cheering section of family and friends on hand in hopes of witnessing his 3,000th career strikeout.

Instead, Sabathia finished the night with 2,997, having surrendered a pair of solo Andrelton Simmons homers and a three-run blast to Kole Calhoun that left his club in a 5-0 hole after five innings.

Boone said that he thought his team looked "tired," likely an effect of their recent extra-inning games and cross-country travel. Jonathan Loaisiga held the line with three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, permitting enough time for the bats to wake up.

"It's been unbelievable, watching this bunch of guys, what they've been doing," Sabathia said. "Just the grittiness when they're playing the game, the defense, playing the game the right way. It's been fun to watch."

LeMahieu started the climb with a run-scoring double off Felix Peña, then scored the second run on a passed ball that skipped by catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The Yanks broke through with three runs in the seventh inning, taking advantage of Luis García's shaky relief appearance.

After the Yanks loaded the bases on two walks and a single, Wade worked a run-scoring walk and LeMahieu lifted a deep sacrifice fly that allowed each runner to advance. Mike Tauchman scored the tying run on a Luke Voit fielder's choice, deftly sliding around Lucroy's tag.

"It was just a lot of really good at-bats there at the end," LeMahieu said. "The balls started falling a little bit and we had some really good at-bats. That was impressive."

The inning ended on a contested play, as center fielder Mike Trout made a terrific grab to steal an extra-base hit from Brett Gardner. The ball was returned to Simmons, who slapped a tag on Wade while he adjusted his feet on second base, immediately signaling to the umpires.

A review showed that Wade was indeed off the bag, completing an inning-ending double play. Boone said that the Yankees coach their players on similar plays frequently, and Wade said he tries it often while playing the middle infield.

"I should have known," Wade said. "We went over it and it was in the back of my head. I just have to stay on the bag. It's part of the game now and you have to know who's defending you and who does stuff like that. From now on, I'm going to keep both feet on the bag."

Red-faced as he returned to the dugout, Wade silently hoped for a chance to atone. He received that opportunity in the ninth, stroking a two-out single off Buttrey and then stealing second base. Wade said that he was intent upon getting into scoring position, especially with an excellent contact hitter like LeMahieu at the plate.

Wade took off as LeMahieu barreled his liner into right field, feeling a great weight lift off his shoulders as he made the 180-foot dash toward home plate.

"You have no idea," Wade said. "I'm just glad we got out with the win. We're grinding. We've got a good vibe going on right now."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.