NEW YORK -- During his brief time in pinstripes, Luke Voit has been putting up some impressive numbers, helping the Yankees become just the sixth team in Major League history to belt at least 250 homers in a season. On Saturday afternoon, however, it was the letters that gave him
NEW YORK -- During his brief time in pinstripes, Luke Voit has been putting up some impressive numbers, helping the Yankees become just the sixth team in Major League history to belt at least 250 homers in a season. On Saturday afternoon, however, it was the letters that gave him trouble.
Hours before Aaron Hicks and Voit hit second-inning homers in the Yanks' Wild Card-clinching 3-2 win, midtown straphangers might have spotted the burly first baseman pacing on 42nd Street, frantically searching for the "D" train that would bring him to Yankee Stadium.
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"Man, this has been the craziest year of my life," Voit said. "Going up and down with St. Louis, I spent a lot of time at Triple-A when I didn't really think that was going to happen. I wanted the challenge of coming to New York City. It's a lot, but I'm having the time of my life with it. I'm just thankful for the opportunity."
Voit eventually found his way. Though Hicks' afternoon started in less stressful fashion, his ears might have been burning when Yankees manager Aaron Boone lauded the switch-hitting centerfielder as "one of the most underrated players in the game."
Boone added that he feels that Hicks' efforts have been frequently overlooked due to the Yanks' star-studded roster. They certainly weren't on Saturday, as Hicks reached the right-field seats off right-hander David Hess for the Bronx Bombers' 250th home run of the season, his career-high 26th.
Two batters later, Voit dispatched his 11th home run as a Yankee into the right-center-field bullpen. The all-time single-season record is held by the 1997 Mariners (264), followed by the '05 Rangers (260), the '10 Blue Jays (257), the '96 Orioles (257) and the '06 Orioles (253).
Both players played key parts in the late innings, and Voit did make his contribution on defense, snaring a hot Chris Davis liner that would have chased home at least one run in the 10th. Aaron Judge said that he hugged Voit during the postgame celebration, lauding his late-season contributions.
"I was like, 'Man, we wouldn't be in this position right now if it wasn't for you,'" Judge said. "'Coming over here, it was a slow start, but you picked us up when we needed you.' When we needed a big hit, he came through for us. When we needed a big run, even the plays he made today, all around he's been a huge piece of this team."
In the 11th, Hicks lashed the hit that punched the Yankees' postseason ticket, but not before being hobbled by a foul ball that caught the inside of his left ankle. Hicks waved off head athletic trainer Steve Donohue after a brief consultation, and X-rays taken after the game were negative.
"I just wanted to hit," Hicks said. "That's what Steve asked me, he's like, 'Are you going to be able to run after you get a hit?' I was like, 'Yeah, I'll be able to get through.' That's pretty much what I was worried about."
As Hicks squared up a Paul Fry offering and tracked the path of his liner, adrenaline carried him to second base, where his teammates mobbed him. Didi Gregorius slid headfirst into the plate, and Hicks joked that Gregorius had better have been able to score from first on that hit.
"He better," Hicks said. "I hit it right down the line. You've got to go."
The casualty of the clincher was Hicks' necklace, which snapped somewhere on the outfield grass and was quickly stuffed into Hicks' back pocket. The only jewelry Hicks cared to talk about was being one step closer to a World Series ring.
"That's what we're here for," Hicks said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.