LeMahieu 'not firing on all cylinders'
DJ LeMahieu admittedly set the bar high over the past two seasons, earning a reputation as the Yankees’ most valuable performer. Though the infielder has yet to slug to his lofty standards this season, he’s encouraged that he and his teammates will find their run of consistency soon.
“It’s been a little inconsistent; I feel like it’s how we’ve been all year,” LeMahieu said on Saturday. “We’ve put ourselves in good position, the pitchers have done a really good job. I think we’re all still waiting for that breakout series offensively, a breakout week, but I know we’re grinding and competing.”
Evaluating his first 47 games, LeMahieu said that he is “not firing on all cylinders.” The 32-year-old entered Saturday’s matinee at Detroit batting .264/.352/.346 with three home runs and 14 RBIs, below the robust .336/.386/.536 slash line that he compiled over the 2019-20 seasons in The Bronx.
“Anytime you don’t see him hitting .320 or .340, by his standards, it’s a slow start,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think just like a lot of guys, he’s a tick off what he normally is. He’s done a really good job of getting on base at a nice clip. We feel like, over time, we expect him to really get it rolling like we know he’s capable of doing.”
LeMahieu noted that there have been offensive difficulties throughout the Majors, not just in the Yankees’ lineup. The Bombers went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position during Friday’s 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Tigers.
“It’s been hard to string a lot of hits together around the league,” LeMahieu said. “It’s more glaring on nights like last night, but I feel like we’re competitive. I feel like we have the right mindset. I know we’ll all be clicking. Individually, some guys are doing a really good job with runners in scoring position, but collectively we’re not doing as well as we know we can.”
LeMahieu spent one day on the paternity list this past week after his wife, Jordan, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
“It was quite an experience,” LeMahieu said. “An awesome feeling.”
Gio Urshela experienced a baseball rarity in the sixth inning on Friday, as he was mistakenly awarded first base on a three-ball walk.
Urshela saw nine pitches from Tigers reliever Kyle Funkhouser. Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza (and the Comerica Park scoreboard operator) lost track of the count, permitting Urshela to skip toward first base after looking at a 2-2 pitch out of the strike zone.
“I didn't realize it until later last night,” Boone said. “Gio said something about, ‘How about that walk?’ I didn't even realize it, honestly. That's pretty wild. Unfortunately, it didn’t put us over the top. ... He must have heard the umpire say 3-2 at some point. I think as he was going down to first, he was questioning it in his head.”
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said he heard about the three-ball walk from pitcher Casey Mize in the postgame handshake line. Crew chief Jerry Meals told a pool reporter that it was a missed count. Had the umpires been questioned, they would have gone to replay and Urshela would have had to resume the at-bat.
“I didn't know about it until after the game,” Hinch said. “And the way it went down, it's obviously our fault on the bench because I could go to replay and get a count check, and we should have done that. The confusing part was the ball that was up in that they actually were looking at to see if it was a hit by pitch, we didn't think was a foul ball. I didn't know if the umpire jumped back, because the ball was close to the head and up and in. And then, you know, three, four pitches later, there's more foul balls and then all of a sudden the ball to the backstop and there's action and he goes to first. We just all missed it, and it's our fault because it should take four balls to walk and nobody said a word and it's embarrassing. Fortunately for us, it didn't come around to haunt us because that could have been ugly.”
“They didn’t stop him, so it’s ball four,” Boone said.
Luck be a lefty
Lucas Luetge won a place on the pitching staff with a strong spring, and the left-hander continues to gain Boone’s trust with each sharp appearance. Luetge entered Saturday having pitched to a 2.66 ERA in 17 appearances, spanning 23 2/3 innings, with a 24-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” Luetge said. “It started off a little rough with my first few outings, but luck has kind of turned my way.”
The 34-year-old Luetge said that he feels a key has been “sticking with the stuff I have,” rather than trying to overpower hitters. Luetge has leaned heavily on his cutter, throwing it 232 times (63.7%) at an average velocity of 88.6 mph. He has sparingly used a slider (24.7%), while nine of his strikeouts have come on curveballs.
“When you start off and the numbers aren’t good, it's easy to stray away from what you do good,” Luetge said. “You try to change things up based off numbers, so I've stuck with what I know how to do and just trusted that over time, things would get better.”
Giancarlo Stanton came through Friday’s first game off the injured list (quad) physically fine, according to Boone, who said that Saturday’s 4:10 p.m. ET start played into the decision to keep Stanton out of the lineup. The DH is expected to play on Sunday.
Zack Britton (left elbow bone spur) is scheduled to begin his Minor League rehab assignment on Saturday for Double-A Somerset. Britton is expected to make four to six appearances at that level.
This date in Yankees history
May 29, 2009: Mariano Rivera recorded the save in a 3-1 Yankees victory over the Indians, marking his 58th time saving an Andy Pettitte win. The duo surpassed Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley (57) for the most win/save instances of any pitcher/reliever in Major League history.