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Voit goes deep in front of family, friends

Happ finds form, K's 10 in 6 strong innings
@BryanHoch
May 25, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Luke Voit's credit card statement took the hit on Saturday afternoon, as the Missouri native had 60 friends and family members mingling on the outfield patio at Kauffman Stadium. Like any good host, he provided those guests with some entertainment. Voit mashed the longest home run of

KANSAS CITY -- Luke Voit's credit card statement took the hit on Saturday afternoon, as the Missouri native had 60 friends and family members mingling on the outfield patio at Kauffman Stadium. Like any good host, he provided those guests with some entertainment.

Voit mashed the longest home run of his career, a 470-foot blast to left field, to break a seventh-inning tie and lift the Yankees to a 7-3 victory over the Royals in the first game of a split-admission doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

"To hit probably the farthest home run I've ever hit in front of them was pretty surreal," Voit said. "I was on cloud nine in that at-bat. This stadium is one of my more favorite stadiums to play in; it's a pretty cool stadium. It's fun to do it here in front of family and friends."

Box score

The deep drive served as the Bombers' response after Whit Merrifield slugged a three-run homer in the sixth inning, interrupting an otherwise stellar effort from J.A. Happ, who struck out a season-high 10 batters and retired 16 of the first 17 Royals he faced.

"I think I just pitched with a little better tempo," Happ said. "I’d like to say the confidence is always there, but it’s also nice to get some results. I feel like I am at my best when my tempo is a little quicker. I felt like today I was moving along and rebounding and just moving onto the next pitch a little better."

Facing reliever Scott Barlow in the seventh inning, Aaron Hicks stroked a one-out single and Voit pounced on an 0-1 slider, crushing the Yankees' longest home run since Gary Sánchez hit a 479-foot homer in Game 2 of last year’s American League Division Series at Fenway Park.

It was the Yanks’ longest regular-season homer since Aaron Judge (471 feet) last May 23. Voit knew that it was gone, permitting himself a few extra beats to track its flight as it cleared the visiting bullpen in left field. Voit was so enthralled that he neglected to go into his Sammy Sosa-style home run hop.

"I didn't mean anything bad, but it's one of those where you hit it, you don't really hit those very often," Voit said. "Everyone was like, 'Why didn't you do the hop?' I was like, 'I don't know!'"

It was a particularly meaningful moment for Voit, who was drafted by the Royals out of high school in 2009 but did not sign. The Cardinals selected him four years later out of Missouri State.

"He’s brought so much to the table for us," manager Aaron Boone said. "Obviously between the lines, he’s been really good. He’s loved coming here and being a Yankee. They love him in that room. He brings something to the park every day, just from an energy standpoint. We’re lucky to have him."

The Yankees managed three runs in six innings against Royals starter Jakob Junis. Clint Frazier provided Happ with a near-instant lead with a two-run double in the first inning, and Gio Urshela lifted a sixth-inning sacrifice fly into foul territory down the right-field line that allowed Brett Gardner to score.

Thairo Estrada added a two-run double in the eighth, allowing extra breathing room as Luis Cessa recorded the final six outs.

"The offense has been huge the last week; really, the whole season," Happ said. "We’ve put up some runs lately. It’s fun to see, that’s for sure."

Voit, who finished the afternoon 2-for-5 with two runs scored, has been a crucial and consistent presence as the Yankees weather a barrage of early-season injuries.

Voit noted that since the trade that delivered him to New York last July, he has hardly had the opportunity to play alongside Didi Gregorius, Judge, Sánchez and Giancarlo Stanton all at the same time, outside of last year's postseason.

"I'm super anxious for those guys to get back," Voit said. "I might be able to see a little bit more fastballs than I'm seeing. I'm obviously excited to get those back, but at the end of the day, this team is a lot of fun. It's the most fun team I've played on, for sure."

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