Stanton hits 121.1 mph walk-off 1B for Yanks

September 4th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Not exactly by design, this Yankees team has had ample experience playing tightly contested games. No American League club has played in more games decided by two runs or fewer this season, and depending on your viewpoint, that could be a blessing or a curse as New York eyes the postseason.

After New York scuffled for nine innings against the league’s weakest pitching staff, stroked a game-tying hit in the 10th inning and delivered the deciding RBI single in the 11th, lifting the Bombers to a 4-3 victory over the Orioles on Friday evening at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s been awesome, helping us win and putting up some good numbers at the same time,” said Stanton, who also homered in the contest. “It’s huge, but most important is the wins. They all help when you put them together at the end of the season to get ready.”

Stanton's single to center field off Dillon Tate drove home to seal the Yanks’ ninth walk-off win of the season, keeping them 1 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card chase. Stanton’s hit had a 121.1 mph exit velocity, making it the hardest-hit batted ball for a walk-off tracked by Statcast (since 2015).

“He’s scary when he comes up to the plate,” said Yankees starter “Everybody knows it -- the whole world knows it. You leave him a cookie, he’s going to do damage.”

The Yankees improved to 49-27 in games decided by two runs or fewer, the best such record in the Majors. They are also 17-2 in their last 19 games at home, dating back to July 17, and have posted 36 come-from-behind victories this season -- third-most in the Majors.

“No matter how tight the situation, how close the game is, win or lose, I know our guys aren’t going to melt,” manager Aaron Boone said. “They aren’t going to be fazed by anything, so that’s comforting. That said, we’d like to pull away a little bit every now and then, but it’s nice that in these close games, our guys seem to play their best.”

Until the extra innings, the Bombers were limited to a pair of runs, both coming against Baltimore starter John Means. Stanton connected in the fourth inning for his 26th long ball of the season, and LeMahieu lifted a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Stanton has been a key component in a Yankees hot streak that has seen them win 15 of 19 games. He has reached base safely in all but one of his last 28 games and has driven in 14 runs over his last 10.

“We always have confidence in G,” said . “He’s a freak of nature, and he comes up big-time in those spots. He’s been swinging the bat well lately, and he’s been on a tear. It was a big night for him and a big win for us.”

Nestor, nasty again

Cortes Jr. has been one of the breakout surprises of this season, and the deceptive left-hander provided another strong effort, missing barrels to permit one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Cortes proceeded scorelessly into the sixth, tying his career high with seven strikeouts before being chased by Trey Mancini’s home run to left field. Cortes is 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA and 43 strikeouts in nine starts this season.

“I felt like my stuff was pretty good,” Cortes said. “Gary [Sánchez] called a great game back there. I stayed in my lanes for the most part throughout the night and made some big pitches to get out of some jams. All I hoped for was to leave my team in a good position to win.”

With the bats stalled and Boone looking for 10 outs from his bullpen, surrendered a game-tying solo homer to Jorge Mateo -- just the second run Loaisiga has allowed in his last 16 appearances.

A former Yankees farmhand, Mateo was one of the pieces moved to the Athletics in the July 2017 trade for right-hander Sonny Gray.

Lock down

Baltimore briefly grabbed a lead in the 10th inning as surrendered a tie-breaking hit to Ryan Mountcastle, but the Yankees answered in the home half as LeMahieu laced an opposite-field RBI single off Cole Sulser.

handled the 11th inning, navigating a first-and-third, none-out jam. Holmes got Anthony Santander to pop up, then induced a Mateo flyout to Stanton, who threw home to hold Mancini at third base.

The ball kicked away from Sánchez for an error, but Holmes struck out Kelvin Gutierrez looking to set up Stanton’s winning hit in the home half of the frame. Holmes has recorded a 1.46 ERA over 12 1/3 innings since being acquired by the Yankees in July.

“Yankee Stadium is a place that is electric at times like that,” Holmes said. “I’m happy to be able to experience the environment and come through. To see the fans react the way they did, it was an awesome experience.”