Austin stakes claim on roster spot with HR

May 16th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- There has been some uncertainty about 's roster spot thanks to a recent skid and some rehabbing Bombers on the comeback trail, but the power-hitting first baseman offered a reminder of the thunder in his right-handed stroke on Tuesday evening.

Austin snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a second-inning single, then crushed a two-run homer off Nationals left-hander as the Yankees opened their two-game Interleague series against the Nationals. The game was suspended with the score tied at 3 in the bottom of the sixth inning; the contest is scheduled to be resumed on Wednesday at 5:05 p.m. ET.

"Just trying to get a good pitch," Austin said. "That's the big thing. Trying to battle through each at-bat. Each guy was going up there and battling. We made him work."

The homer came with Didi Gregorius aboard following a two-base error by center fielder . Austin mashed a 3-2 curveball over the wall in right field for his sixth blast of the season. The homer trimmed Washington's lead to 3-2 at the time.

Austin tied the score in the fifth inning, lifting a deep sacrifice fly to center field.

"I always like the matchup with Tyler against a lefty," manager Aaron Boone said. "A few really good at-bats -- the single to start things, obviously the homer. Deep at-bats. That last at-bat was a real battle with Gio where he almost hit another one out, chasing them back to the wall. Really good at-bats from him in what we felt was a good matchup for him."

and Austin have been splitting time at first base while Greg Bird recovers from right ankle surgery performed in late March.

Bird was added to the roster at Double-A Trenton on Monday and is expected to remain with that club through the week, eyeing a big league return by the end of May. The Yankees have estimated that Bird will need 10 to 14 rehab games to be ready; Monday marked his fourth after playing in three contests for Class A Advanced Tampa.