Voit ties MLB HR lead (16); Yanks sweep DH

September 12th, 2020

NEW YORK -- grimaced as he rounded the bases, then stomped on home plate and exchanged spirited forearm bashes with his teammates. The trot served as an apt metaphor for the Yankees’ season -- battered and bruised, sure, but still chugging toward the finish line.

Having been hampered for weeks by what manager Aaron Boone has mysteriously described as “foot stuff,” Voit grabbed a share of the Major League home run lead, mashing a pair of three-run homers on Friday in the Yankees’ 10-1 victory over the Orioles, sweeping a seven-inning doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

“I’ll do everything I can to grind through it and do everything I can to help us win,” Voit said. “It’s been a weird year for our team this year, so I need to be out there with the boys, helping them grind through this.”

The power display helped the Yankees extend their winning streak to three games, coming after ace right-hander Gerrit Cole fired seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 Game 1 victory. With 16 homers, Voit has tied the Angels’ Mike Trout for the most in baseball, a race DJ LeMahieu said he’s ready to handicap.

“Right now, I’ve got Luke for sure,” LeMahieu said. “Just the way he's hitting mistakes and great at-bats, it seems like he's putting one out almost every game. It’s quite a roll. It's a lot of fun to watch.”

Both of Voit’s homers came off right-hander Asher Wojciechowski: a fourth-inning blast to the right-field bullpen and a fifth-inning shot to the left-field seats. Voit’s six RBIs established a new career high, marking the slugger’s fifth career multihomer game and second of the season (also Aug. 17 vs. the Red Sox).

“He’s been great. What an impact performer he’s been,” Boone said. “Where would we be without him?”

Voit said that the slow limp was the result of a loose wrap on his foot, and he appeared to have an easier time making the 360-foot trip around the bases an inning later, when it had been re-taped by an athletic trainer.

“It has good days and bad days,” said Voit, who has hit 51 homers since being acquired by the Yankees in a July 2018 trade with the Cardinals. “It felt good when we were in Buffalo. Doubleheaders just put a little bit more wear and tear on it. It’ll feel better [Saturday].”

Voit’s homers turned the contest into a laugher after the Yankees chased left-hander Keegan Akin in the first inning, exacting revenge after the rookie silenced them last week in Baltimore. Miguel Andújar stroked a two-run double while Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres picked up RBIs against Akin, who recorded only two outs.

“We've been able to take advantage of some of the traffic we've started to create,” Boone said. “I just feel like we're putting more pressure on them, top to bottom.”

Lights out
Masahiro Tanaka provided the Yanks’ second sterling pitching performance of the day, settling in after surrendering DJ Stewart’s first-inning homer to scatter three hits over five innings.

The right-hander struck out five without a walk, retiring the final 12 men he faced after hitting Renato Núñez with a second-inning pitch. Though Tanaka’s 91-pitch effort leaned mostly on his slider (26) and splitter (23), he saw his two-seamer (17) as a difference-maker, five days after facing the O’s in Baltimore.

“I thought it had good movement and I was able to control it fairly well,” Tanaka said through a translator. “I didn't throw it in the previous outing that much. I thought it would be effective to use it.”

Home cooking
The Yankees improved to 16-7 at Yankee Stadium this season, thus clinching a 29th consecutive winning season at home (since 1992). That’s the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest since the Yanks’ run from 1918-64, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

More importantly, the victories add separation between the Yankees (24-21) and the Orioles (20-24), who are hunting the eighth and final playoff spot. The next two days could permit the Yankees to climb further; they now trail the Blue Jays (24-20) by only a half-game for second place in the American League East.

“We’ve got to come out fighting again,” Voit said. “It's been nice to get these leads the last couple of games. That's been huge, and our starting pitching has been phenomenal.”