Volpe provides exclamation point for series win in LA

June 5th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- The spotlight has been on from the season’s first pitch, which can almost lull you into forgetting that the highs and lows of a 162-game schedule are still relatively new to the rookie shortstop. He provided an unintentional reminder after Sunday’s game, remarking that he’d enjoyed his first West Coast road trip.

The comment took a moment to process. First trip? Well, yeah, that makes sense.

Volpe belted a late two-run homer into Dodger Stadium’s left-field bleachers, providing a nice confidence boost as the Bombers wrapped their winning swing through the Pacific time zone with a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers.

“I think it does a lot, but at the end of the day, it’s a really, really good team we’re going up against,” Volpe said. “So to take the series the way we did and just to play the way we did, it’s huge.”

The sizzling bat that helped Volpe earn an Opening Day shortstop nod has cooled, as big league pitchers are challenging the 22-year-old to adjust. Though his batting average (.193) has dipped below the Mendoza Line, manager Aaron Boone has steadfastly supported Volpe, believing he has shown his mettle as a “winning player.”

“He always just bounces right back,” Boone said. “Another big homer; he’s got nine homers. He’s made a lot of big important plays in the field. Obviously, the stuff he does on the bases. He’s finding his way, and it’s fun to watch him do it.”

Boone and Aaron Judge -- who rested on Sunday after injuring his right big toe making a terrific catch on Saturday -- hope that the conclusion of this trip can represent a turning point for Volpe, who had not enjoyed a multihit game since May 14.

“When they called him up, there were going to be some bumps and bruises along the way,” Judge said. “I think the organization and everybody knew that he was the type of guy that could handle that adversity and take it head-on. That’s what he’s done all year for us, and it’s been impressive to watch, and impressive to be around.”

Volpe scorched a 107.5 mph single in the fifth inning off rookie starter Bobby Miller for the Yankees’ first hit of the game, then tattooed a Caleb Ferguson fastball a Statcast-projected 399 feet into the seating area, coming off the bat at 108.4 mph.

“As an organization, from top to bottom, I’ve grown up in it,” Volpe said. “I know that there’s a lot of people that I can count on, regardless of what’s going good or bad.”

Until Volpe’s deep drive, the Yankees were engaged in a taut Chavez Ravine pitchers’ duel, with Domingo Germán keeping the Dodgers guessing into the seventh inning. Leaning on his curveball and changeup, the righty held the potent offense in check over a 99-pitch effort, one of his strongest of the year.

“I’m very satisfied with the outing,” Germán said through an interpreter. “We wanted to be aggressive and execute, and command all the pitches facing this lineup. I felt like during the game we were able to do that. We were able to stay mentally locked into the game and execute pitches.”

Germán limited Los Angeles to four hits, walking one and striking out six. He exited with the game tied after hanging an 0-2 curveball that J.D. Martinez slugged into the left-field bleachers.

"We were chasing a little bit. He was taking advantage of that,” said the Dodgers’ Will Smith. “It was a pretty low strike zone, so maybe [Germán was] getting some counts ahead instead of hitter’s counts. But overall, he did a good job mixing and keeping us off-balance, and we didn't make the adjustment."

New York managed little against Miller, who held the Yankees scoreless through six innings.

The first run of the game came across in the seventh, when Jake Bauers grounded a one-out single and Isiah Kiner-Falefa dropped a bunt that pitcher Brusdar Graterol fired errantly into right field. Kyle Higashioka knocked in Bauers with a groundout to shortstop.

In the eighth, Anthony Rizzo worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on Giancarlo Stanton’s booming double to left-center field before Oswaldo Cabrera picked up an RBI with a dribbler to second base. Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta pitched effectively as the Yanks wrapped their 4-2 trip to Seattle and Los Angeles.

“The guys did so many things well tonight,” Boone said. “Just a really, really good all-around effort. A lot of winning things happened in that game.”