BRONX — A visit from the Oakland Athletics seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for what had been an ailing the Yankees offense. What started in their last game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday extended into the three-game series against the struggling A’s.
That of course being the Yankees’ bats finally getting into a bit of a grove after completing the series sweep with an 11-3 win over the Athletics on Wednesday. The Bronx Bombers scored a combined 28 runs over their last three games — that increased to 35 when you included the loss to Tampa — and they’ve hit at least two home runs in their last four games.
Harrison Bader had been a sparkplug, as Yankee captain Aaron Judge called him after Wednesday’s win, hitting .429/.448/.893 with three homers in his first eight games this year. Anthony Volpe recorded another career milestone in the win and the Yankees have scored double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the fourth time this season.
“It definitely helps guys’ confidence when you have a couple of good at-bats,” Judge said about the offensive surge. “Put the ball in play. Pitchers kind of stepping up for us doing the job, so you need those every now and then because baseball is a grind. You’re gonna have those series where nothing goes right, then you have the series everything goes right and kind of feeling good.”
While the season is still relatively young, the Yanks’ upcoming four-game series with Tampa Bay has taken on a more important tone amid the team’s tough start to the year. New York also dropped two of three to the Rays last week at Tropicana Field as they try to claw their way out of the bottom of the AL East.
The Yankees were 8.5 games back of the division lead after Wednesday’s win. While it’s been less than a week since New York last faced Tampa, manager Aaron Boone didn’t mind the challenge of playing the Rays again so quickly.
“I think you should always like facing the best,” Boone said. “The best teams. I think you’ll always enjoy that and relish in that. In the end, we want to shake hands. You know, that’s what we work hard to do each and every day. But there is something about competing against other really good teams that hopefully brings out the best (in you) and hopefully as a competitor, you really enjoyed it.”
It was a sentiment that was echoed by Bader in the clubhouse.
“(The Rays) got a really, really talented team over there on all sides of the baseball and I think we’re just really excited for the level of competition, which allows us to play looser. Let’s just play more confidently,” Bader said.
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