LeMahieu wins it on 34th birthday ... with his wheels?

July 14th, 2022

DJ LeMahieu has won the Yankees many a game over the last four years with his stellar fielding and consistency at the plate. However, on his 34th birthday, LeMahieu gave the Yanks a boost with his legs en route to a 7-6 win in 10 innings over the Reds Wednesday night.

Starting the bottom of the 10th as the automatic runner on second, LeMahieu was primed to be the winning run with the heart of the order coming up. Following an Aaron Judge strikeout and an intentional walk of Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the box looking to send an exuberant Yankees crowd home happy -- but he never got the chance.

After Stanton fell behind in the count 0-2, Reds reliever Alexis Díaz bounced a slider allowing LeMahieu to get to third base. On the very next pitch, with Yankee Stadium still buzzing with anticipation, Díaz spiked another slider. LeMahieu immediately took off down the line, with fans roaring as he slid into home plate with the winning run before being mobbed by his teammates. Even a usually reserved LeMahieu couldn’t hold back a smile as he was showered with high fives and bubble gum.

"It’s a good birthday,” said LeMahieu with a subdued smirk postgame. “I always say, ‘I get to play in the big leagues on my birthday, so that’s good enough.' But a walk-off like this ... pretty fun."

While his quiet, composed demeanor is par for the course, LeMahieu’s impact on the Yankees since his arrival speaks volumes -- both on and off the field.

“I really think he’s done better than his numbers suggest. You sometimes just watch his at-bats in big spots, ahead of Judge, understanding where he is in the lineup. We overuse the term professional hitter but it's so fitting [with LeMahieu],” said manager Aaron Boone. “He gives you such a pro at-bat. He’s so good in the field with the versatility to play all those different positions. He's been really consistent this year and [I’m] excited about how he’s played.”

Entering Thursday, LeMahieu leads the team in on-base percentage at .371 and is second to Judge for the team lead in hits with 78. His quality at-bats at the top of the order have consistently set the table and the tone for the Yankees’ offense during his time in pinstripes.

“We love him. I love watching his at-bats and in a big situation, he’s going to come through. In every situation, you just have all the confidence in the world [in him],” said Rizzo about LeMahieu’s presence in the lineup. “He’s great to talk to, a great baseball mind, and a great person.”

Jose Trevino echoed similar sentiments about the Yankees' leadoff hitter and his approach at the plate. “[He’s a] clutch hitter, gets on base, hits some homers, puts some balls in the gap. It's impressive what DJ has done for a really long time.”

While his production on the field has been vital to the Yankees' success, his impact in the clubhouse cannot be overstated. “He's a leader by example. He does an amazing job every single day, every single day,” added Trevino. “Preparation, mentality, work ethic, you name it, DJ is leading by example.”

“It's pretty cool just to watch him just because people sometimes want a little more [emotion] out of him, but he's just the same no matter what,” said Yankees closer Clay Holmes. “I think there's a huge lesson to be learned in that. No matter what's going on, he's the same. He works the same and believes in his process. I think [his mentality] is good for a lot of people.”