Yanks' pitch selection; aces prepare to duel

April 23rd, 2021

Having witnessed the Yankees' largest comeback victory of the season thus far, hitting coach Marcus Thames believes that his message is sinking in. His explanation of success is not complicated: Swing at strikes, make solid contact and good things will happen.

The Yankees erased a three-run deficit on Thursday, scoring six unanswered runs in a 6-3 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. That represented an offensive deluge for a lineup that entered Friday ranked near the Majors' bottom in runs (27th), hits (26th), batting average (28th) and OPS (29th).

"I think they're trying to hit a three-run homer with nobody on base at times," Thames said. "That just comes with being an athlete, trying to pick your teammates up, but doing it the wrong way. Mentally, we've just got to get back to one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time. All that will come."

The need to improve pitch selection has been a common theme in the Yankees' batting cages -- spent one session with Thames focusing on little else, believing that holds the key to restoring his high on-base percentage.

Thames said that is among those who have been flailing out of the strike zone too often; Stanton entered Friday 3-for-32 (.094) with 15 strikeouts over his previous nine games.

"I talked to him the other day about, 'You've got to still go up and hunt your pitch in your area, and don't let the pitcher dictate what you're going to do,'" Thames said. "I just think he's got to get back in the strike zone and be committed, take swings with conviction. When you do that, that gets him on point."

Thames added that he is not concerned by an apparent lack of power from , who snapped a skid with three hits on Thursday. Torres hit 38 homers in 2019 but has slugged just three regular season homers in 2020-21, a span of 200 at-bats.

"I thought he hit for power in Spring Training, so I'm not worried about that," Thames said. "Like the majority of our guys, Gleyber has to concentrate on having quality at-bats and the power stuff will come. When you start chasing power, you start chasing pitches, and you just get yourself in a funk. We're coming out of it."

Strike force
Saturday presents an elite matchup of aces at Progressive Field, with set to battle reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber in a rematch of last year's Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series -- won by the Yankees, 12-3.

"I wouldn't mind it unfolding like that again," manager Aaron Boone said. "We see Gerrit all the time and know how special he is. Bieber is similar. I know there's going to be two studs on the bump that day, for sure."

Cole has been on an impressive roll, setting a franchise record with 39 strikeouts through four starts -- the most for any Yankees pitcher in his first four games of a season, surpassing Masahiro Tanaka's 35 in 2014. Cole has also recorded at least seven strikeouts in each of his last 13 regular-season starts, since Aug. 8, 2020.

"It's certainly a great company to be in," Cole said. "When you look at stuff like that, you're doing your job. But in the end, after it's been done, you've got to prepare for the next game. I've certainly been making a lot of good pitches, and that's what leads to that."

Bombers bits
• Boone announced that right-hander will start Sunday's series finale in Cleveland. The Yankees have not decided on their pitching plan for Monday in Baltimore; Boone said it could be right-hander or an opener.

• Infielder Gio Urshela returned to the lineup on Friday after sitting out on Thursday with lower back tightness. Urshela took pregame batting practice on Thursday and felt good on Friday, according to Boone.

This date in Yankees history
April 23, 2000: Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams became the first pair of teammates in Major League history to each homer from both sides of the plate in the same game, powering a 10-7 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto.