Yankee Stadium feels like October in June in clash with Dodgers

June 8th, 2024

NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Dodgers have met in 11 previous World Series, more than any other franchise pairing. With bold-faced names on each roster, the lights bright and every seat filled at Yankee Stadium, it was easy to envision this as a preview of what could be in store this autumn.

First things first. It took extra innings to decide the weekend’s first meeting between these powerhouses, with Teoscar Hernández lining a two-run double off Ian Hamilton in the 11th. responded with a run-scoring hit in the home half, but the Yankees were turned aside in a 2-1 loss on Friday evening in the Bronx.

“Feeding off the crowd is what made it special,” Judge said. “They were on their feet tonight, from the very first pitch all the way into extra innings. Those are the games you want to play in. It was a fun one tonight -- I just wish it would have ended a little differently.”

The Yankees absorbed their fourth extra-innings defeat of the year as Juan Soto remained on the bench, considered day to day with left forearm inflammation after undergoing an MRI earlier on Friday. Though Soto picked up a bat several times, lurking at the dugout’s top step as though he intended to pinch-hit, manager Aaron Boone admitted Soto did not take practice swings at any point on Friday.

“We have a plan of what we’re going to do throughout these days,” Soto said. “It was a tough moment. I tried to be right there for my teammates.”

The ruse did not fool the Dodgers, according to manager Dave Roberts. Eyeing Soto from across the diamond, Roberts said he “glanced, but didn’t think twice” about the threat of Soto, noting, “I had no expectation that he was going to take an at-bat tonight.”

Said Boone: “I think [Soto] was just feeling the moment a little bit.”

Without Soto, the Yanks spent seven innings unable to break through against Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who delivered a sharp performance in his first career start at Yankee Stadium. Yamamoto was a central target for the Yankees this past offseason, with the club offering the right-hander a 10-year, $300 million contract.

Yamamoto chose instead to sign with Los Angeles for 12 years and $325 million, and though the Yanks were disappointed by that decision, their winter moves to add Soto, Marcus Stroman and Alex Verdugo have all been important ingredients in New York’s first-place performance thus far.

Though Yamamoto said he considered facing the Yankees “just a normal game,” he showcased his highest velocity so far. Clearly, he felt some vibes relating to a big-game showdown before an announced crowd of 48,048, the Yankees’ fourth sellout of the year and the club’s highest-paid attendance of the season.

"The Yankees are a great team, and I appreciate their interest in me during the negotiation,” said Yamamoto, who also turned down a significant offer from the Mets.

Responding to the challenge of facing Yamamoto and the Los Angeles batting order, navigated 4 2/3 scoreless innings, marking the right-hander’s second turn in the rotation since Clarke Schmidt landed on the injured list.

“It was incredible, probably the most fun game I’ve ever pitched,” Poteet said. “I’m very thankful for that experience. It was a privilege.”

Poteet will likely stick for a few more outings, with ace Gerrit Cole scheduled to make his second Minor League rehab start on Sunday for Double-A Somerset.

“It’s been impressive, all the way back to his [April 13] start in Cleveland,” Judge said. “I didn’t know too much about him. I saw him a little bit in Spring Training, but getting a chance to see him go out there and work, the guy is a competitor.”

New York had a prime opportunity to push a run across in the eighth, as Judge’s 10-pitch walk loaded the bases for Giancarlo Stanton, who flew out to left field. Had Soto been available, he likely would have seen action in the 10th, with pinch-runner Jahmai Jones dancing off second base as the potential winning run.

Soto stayed put, however, as Trent Grisham twice attempted to drop down a sacrifice bunt before flying out to right field. Jose Trevino fouled out and Anthony Volpe skied one to center, extending the scoreless tie that would end a few batters later.

“It was a very well-pitched game on both sides,” Boone said. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t break through today.”