Without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius, the Yankees’ power was expected to be severely reduced.
Luke Voit filled some of the void, but lately his bat has gone cold in the long-ball department. He did, however, have three hits and drove in two runs in the nightcap.
Only Gary Sanchez has flexed consistent muscles and he missed two weeks in April. Hicks returned from the injured list and started the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Yet, despite the injured list seemingly growing daily, the Yankees continued to win despite the power dip that resulted in two homers in the previous five games entering Wednesday’s first tilt.
With Gleyber Torres leading the way with two homers and Cameron Maybin and Sanchez one each the Yankees beat the Birds, 5-3, in front of a quaint Yankee Stadium gathering that resembled a small spring training crowd.
The power was reduced in the nightcap when Torres homered again and Domingo German provided seven strong innings in a 3-1 victory that was witnessed by a 41,138.
Zack Britton contributed to each win with a scoreless inning and Aroldis Chapman posted two saves and has 11 in 12 chances.
The sweep was tempered by the news that Miguel Andujar will undergo season-ending surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in the right shoulder.
“We got two days in a row off and everybody just tried to hit the ball,’’ Torres said after the first game after the teams were rained out Monday and Tuesday nights. “Try to put the ball in play and do damage.’’
Torres said his right elbow, where he was hit by a pitch Friday night, is painful when he throws but not when hitting and it showed.
Torres homered in the fourth inning of the second game off Andrew Cashner for his eighth of the season. Voit, who was hitless in 21 at-bats and had one hit in the previous 30, doubled in a run in the third and a single plated another in the seventh.
The 26-16 Yankees have won 18-of-24 and entered the second game one-half game back of the AL East-leading Rays.
German improved to 8-1 by limiting the Orioles to a run and six hits in seven innings. He has won his last five starts.
The Yankees’ first four hits in the opener were solo homers and produced a 4-3 lead. O’s right fielder Trey Mancini turned Gio Urshela’s fourth-inning fly toward the right-field corner into a three-base error and he scored on Mike Tauchman’s two-out single up the middle for the game’s final run.
Aaron Boone looked around the Stadium and saw the light crowd for the opener, knew his team hadn’t played since Sunday and was starting a game at 3 p.m. which is awkward. Rightfully so, the manager wondered what type of energy his club would have.
Four homers in four innings calmed those fears and Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and Chapman provided 3 ²/₃ innings of scoreless relief to make a winner out of JA Happ, who improved to 3-3 despite getting replaced with one out in the sixth, a move he didn’t see coming but couldn’t argue with since the bullpen was filthy.
“I wanted to make sure he remembered we have a doubleheader today but he has got his reasons,’’ Happ said of his conversation with Boone, who replaced him with Ottavino with one out and the lefty’s pitch count at 64. “The four guys who came in were about as nasty as I have seen all year. They were disgusting.’’
Happ gave up a solo homer to Mancini in the first, an RBI double to Austin Wynns in the second and a leadoff homer to Renato Nunez in the third. After that the veteran lefty retired six of seven before leaving.
Ottavino left Kahnle with Joey Rickard on second base and one out in the seventh and Kahnle’s terrific season continued when he struck out Chris Davis and Wynns. Britton worked a perfect eighth and Chapman got around Rickard’s two-out, ground-rule double in the ninth.
“That ball Gary hit, that’s a long way,’’ Boone said of Sanchez’s 12th homer that landed above the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center and was measured at 443 feet. “A good way to start the day.’’
In the absence of the home run hitters the Yankees have won games with solid starting pitching, strong pen work and dependable, if not spectacular, defense.
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