NEW YORK -- Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the Yankees had a homer-happy day against the Orioles. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. The Yanks have hit at least one home run in all 16 games they’ve played against Baltimore this year. They’ve hit multiple home runs in
NEW YORK -- Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the Yankees had a homer-happy day against the Orioles. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. The Yanks have hit at least one home run in all 16 games they’ve played against Baltimore this year. They’ve hit multiple home runs in 13 of those, including Monday’s 8-5 win in Game 1 of a separate-admission doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
“Look, the home run’s been a big factor this year, obviously around the league, and certainly in a lot of ways we’re built around that,” manager Aaron Boone said. “With our guys, they’re capable of swinging the bats really well, hitting the long ball. So, with our group, not a lot surprises me.”
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The Yankees entered the game with 52 home runs against the Orioles this season, already the most by any team in a season against a single opponent. They hit four more in Game 1 to raise that total to 56. For a comparison, the Marlins have yet to hit their 100th homer this season -- against all opponents combined.
One of those Yankees home runs came from Gleyber Torres, who has led the way in the team’s long-ball tendencies against Baltimore. He now has 11 home runs against the Orioles this season, tied for second most by any player against a single opponent in the divisional era (since 1969).
The only player with more homers against a single opponent in a season in that span was Sammy Sosa in 1998 against the Brewers. He hit 12, which is well in reach for Torres, given the Yanks’ three remaining games against the O's this season. New York improved to 14-2 vs. Baltimore and 78-41 overall.
Torres’ home run was in the first inning, but it was the second homer of the game. The first came from Didi Gregorius, who hit a three-run drive as the third batter of the game.
“[Didi had] another homer today to get us going, which is big,” Boone said. “He hasn’t gone on one of those ‘Didi Hot Streaks,’ but I know he’s also … kind of grinding through, like he always does. But he’s come up with some big hits for us. There was that stretch around London and just after that where he was really raking.
“But he’s just been steady. He’s real close to going on one of those streaks where he gets ‘Didi Hot,’ and then those numbers start to fly.”
Gregorius was asked after the game about another of the home-run hitters from Monday afternoon, Gio Urshela.
“No, [the power he’s shown] doesn’t surprise me,” Gregorius said. "The guy’s been consistent the whole year.”
Urshela’s home run was projected at 461 feet by Statcast. That’s the longest homer of his career.
Urshela was asked after the game if he considers himself a power hitter.
“I think I can now say it,” he answered with a laugh.
Delving further into his success this year, especially compared to the previous years of his career, Urshela was asked what the difference has been.
“Like I always say, it’s confidence,” Urshela said. “Trying to go to the box with that confidence every time. Be ready for every pitch.”
Boone has talked on numerous occasions this year about just how important and impressive Urshela has been. Monday afternoon was no different.
“461’s a long way,” Boone said. “I mean, he hits one up on the restaurant the other day in Toronto. From the start of Spring Training, it caught my eye -- his ability, in batting practice, to just throw them out to straightaway center off the batter’s eye down there in Tampa and the right of that. No, I’m not that surprised [by the distance]. He’s really come into his own as a hitter.”
The other home run was hit by Cameron Maybin, who then announced on Twitter postgame that his mother, Nae Nae, is officially in remission after being diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and undergoing surgery.
The Orioles launched a pair of their own home runs off starter James Paxton, who worked six solid innings, striking out seven and allowing three runs to earn his eighth win.
A two-out appearance by former O's closer Zack Britton shut down a late Baltimore rally, and Aroldis Chapman secured his 32nd save with a perfect ninth.
Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.