TORONTO -- The sentence that deposited Gio Urshela into the Yankees organization was transmitted through Major League Baseball's transaction wire one year ago this week, generating little notice at the time. Witnessing his emergence into a power threat has been arguably the most improbable development of what is shaping up
TORONTO -- The sentence that deposited Gio Urshela into the Yankees organization was transmitted through Major League Baseball's transaction wire one year ago this week, generating little notice at the time. Witnessing his emergence into a power threat has been arguably the most improbable development of what is shaping up as a special season.
Urshela belted two homers for the second consecutive evening on Thursday, clearing the fences in the first and third innings as the Yankees thumped the Blue Jays, 12-6, for their season-high ninth consecutive victory. Mike Tauchman also went deep as the Bombers became the first Major League club to hit 19 homers over a four-game span.
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"I try to put the ball in play in those situations, with runners in scoring position," Urshela said. "I got the homers, and that's a better feeling. I'm trying to swing at the ball in the zone, trying to drive the ball more. I try to hit it with the barrel and keep my hands inside the ball."
Helping Domingo Germán join Justin Verlander as the only 15-game winners in the Majors, Urshela's dual blasts off Blue Jays starter Thomas Pannone gave him a career-high 16, following a 15-month span in which he was jettisoned by both the Indians and Blue Jays.
The Jays swapped Urshela to the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations last Aug. 4, and the previously unheralded 27-year-old appears to have found a home at the hot corner in New York, now riding a 13-game hitting streak. He has homered in three straight games for the first time in his career.
"I actually played with him in Venezuela three years ago," Tauchman said. "He was an incredible player then, so I've seen the offense, him being an offensive force, a doubles machine. Obviously, he's driving the ball out of the ballpark and that's not even touching on his defense, which is incredible, too. The way he's played this year, he's been a huge part of our team."
The first Yankee to post back-to-back multihomer games since Aaron Judge on Sept. 24 and 25, 2017, Urshela says his time at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was instrumental, particularly the changes he made to drive more with his legs at the suggestion of hitting coach Phil Plantier.
"That's a big change for my career, coming to the Yankees from the Blue Jays," Urshela said. "It feels good to be here now. I learned a lot from my experience in Triple-A with the Yankees. I worked a lot."
Plenty to Tauch about
If Urshela's emergence rates as the Yankees' most pleasant surprise of the season, Tauchman's isn't far behind. A late spring pickup from the Rockies, Tauchman has exceeded all expectations, with his two-run homer off Zack Godley highlighting a six-run third inning.
"They’ve been impact players for us," manager Aaron Boone said. "They do it on both sides of the ball. It’s come in a lot of big situations. They have worked hard at getting better at their craft. They’ve done a good job of having a plan going into the game. They are going out and executing. You can see it in the confidence that they’re displaying at this level now."
It was Tauchman's fourth homer in as many games, and his 11th overall.
"I think as an offense, we're kind of in the zone right now," Tauchman said. "Look at the production we've been putting up lately. I think that definitely makes it tough for opposing pitchers to navigate our lineup."
Staked to an eight-run lead through three innings, German faltered in the fifth, as Boone said the righty's stuff "was a little bit flat." Derek Fisher and Bo Bichette homered off German before left fielder Cameron Maybin lost a ball in the twilight that led to a fourth Toronto run.
German stabilized enough to qualify for the victory, permitting four runs (three earned) and eight hits in a 90-pitch effort.
“Of course you feel satisfied about winning," German said through an interpreter. "As a starting pitcher, the mentality is to go out there and win the game. Go as long as you can, but at the end of the day, you want to win the game. So I’m satisfied with the amount of wins."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.