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'Every kid's dream': Ford hits 1st HR with Yanks

Estrada adds his first 2 big league hits in 5th straight win
@BryanHoch
April 24, 2019

ANAHEIM – The second and third waves of Yankees reinforcements are proving that they can handle the bright lights of the big leagues, as rookies Mike Ford and Thairo Estrada celebrated milestones they'll never forget in Tuesday's 7-5 victory over the Angels. Estrada collected his first two Major League hits

ANAHEIM – The second and third waves of Yankees reinforcements are proving that they can handle the bright lights of the big leagues, as rookies Mike Ford and Thairo Estrada celebrated milestones they'll never forget in Tuesday's 7-5 victory over the Angels.

Estrada collected his first two Major League hits and Ford slugged his first big league homer, a two-run shot in the fifth inning off Angels starter Chris Stratton. Neither player was expected to be in the Majors so soon, but the Yankees have now won five straight games, thriving with their new cast.

“We have so much talent throughout the whole organization," Ford said. "You look top to bottom, it rivals anywhere. We’re trying to preach, ‘Do your job.' Do your individual thing that you can each day and not try to do too much and just contribute how you can to win."

The 23-year-old Estrada made his debut as a pinch-hitter in Sunday's 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Royals, then drew a starting nod at second base for Tuesday's contest.

A touted prospect whose 2018 season was derailed as he recovered from a bullet wound sustained during an attempted robbery in his native Venezuela, Estrada singled in his first two at-bats against Stratton, singling to right field and center field. He also worked a walk, finishing 2-for-4.

"Wow," Estrada said through an interpreter. "I’m super glad we got the win, but what a moment. It’s something that I’m never going to forget. I was able to take advantage of those at-bats and connect. … So many of our guys have gone down with injuries, but once we got called up here, the focus was to give the best we have."

Ford's trip around the bases was worth the wait. A Belle Mead, N.J., product who was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Princeton University, the 26-year-old played in 561 games over seven seasons in the Yankees' system before finally receiving a promotion to The Show.

The Angels intentionally walked Ford twice during Monday's 14-inning contest, a fact that did not escape his teammates.

“The running joke was I might have been the only guy in Major League history to have two intentional walks and one hit," Ford said.

Make that three hits. Ford singled in his first at-bat, then sent a homer to the right-field bleachers that came off his bat at 104.7 mph, traveling a projected 419 feet with a 21-degree launch angle, according to Statcast.

"It was awesome to see Ford get his first homer and Thairo get his first hit, then get another hit," said Luke Voit, who homered twice in the win. "It’s cool because it makes you think about when you got your first home run and what that felt like. To make it to the big leagues and hit a home run in the big leagues, you know it’s kind of every kid's dream."

Ford's big moment prompted a fresh call from Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling, who made the easy automotive connection as he bellowed: "For the Yankees, there's a Ford in your future. Mike is Ford tough!"

The ball was retrieved by director of team security Eddie Fastook, and Ford said that he would give the keepsake to his parents.

"It's been a crazy mix of emotions," Ford said. "I'm just really continuing to stay on the high of being here and trying to help the team win. It's been an awesome experience."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.