After a competitive but losing weekend at Tropicana Field, the Yankees were happy to return home Monday to begin a three-game set against a bad Oakland team.
The Yankees and Athletics find themselves in last place, but the latter has won just eight games in 2023. The Yankees, meanwhile, picked up their 19th win of the year in Monday’s series opener, a 7-2 victory that featured four longballs from the Bronx Bombers.
A familiar face awaited the home team, as JP Sears started for Oakland. The young lefty — traded in the deal that brought Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino to New York last summer — hardly made the Yankees miss him, as he allowed three homers and five earned runs over 5.1 innings.
Oswaldo Cabrera started the scoring in the fifth inning when he followed a Harrison Bader triple with his second home run of the year. More runs came in the sixth when Gleyber Torres hit a frozen rope over the left field wall. DJ LeMahieu added a two-run shot a few batters later, which spelled the end of Sears’ night.
“To get a couple big swings off [Sears] was good,” Aaron Boone said of the dingers, “and definitely needs to be part of our game.”
Even Aaron Hicks joined the power party with a two-run blast of his own in the seventh inning. The second-deck bomb off reliever Austin Pruitt was Hicks’ first homer of the season and his first hit at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 23 of last year.
“You definitely want to get the first one out the way, that’s for sure,” Hicks said of the home run. “To do it at home feels good, too.”
Hicks, hitting .153 this season, also picked up his first extra-base of the year, a double, on Sunday. On Monday, he said that he’s been practicing more patience at the plate and not trying to force things over the last two days. “And when I get a good pitch to hit, try to hit it hard,” he added.
Hicks’ role and future with the Yankees has been a topic of conversation since last season, and his struggles have drawn boos from Yankees fans in and away from the Bronx. So when he tanked Pruitt’s pitch, the Yankees’ dugout “went crazy,” as Cabrera put it.
Boone, meanwhile, noted that Hicks’ jack opened up the game enough to assist the Yankees’ short-handed bullpen. The skipper then praised the way Hicks has handled a difficult start to his season.
“Talking about a guy that hasn’t run from any of this,” Boone said. “He’s been working his tail off behind the scenes, whether it’s extra hitting, extra work. He’s trying to make it happen. And none of this, I’m sure, has been easy. But he’s stood there and faced it every single day, and credit to him for continuing to grind. To see him get results now in back-to-back days and obviously hit a big homer tonight, yes, very happy for him, and showing some resilience that he’s had to have all year.”
The Yankees’ power surge overshadowed a so-so evening for Nestor Cortes, who left the game with the bases loaded and no out in the sixth inning. Oakland scored twice with Ron Marinaccio in from the bullpen, but those runs were charged to Cortes.
“Obviously, I put Ron in a difficult situation there,” Cortes said. “[He] was able to get out of there with minimal damage. And then we bursted out for three runs in that next inning, so that kind of gave us a lift.”
Cortes recently battled strep throat and had to be pushed back to Monday’s game, but he said he got his usual work in between starts after getting medicated last Monday. The southpaw totaled five innings, six hits, two earned runs, two walks and four strikeouts against the A’s.
Ian Hamilton and Nick Ramirez followed Marinaccio out of the Yankees’ pen without allowing a run.
With the Yankees trying to climb out of the American League East’s basement, the team will look for two more wins against the lowly A’s before eight consecutive games against the division rival Rays and Blue Jays from May 11-18.
Clarke Schmidt will pitch for the Yanks on Tuesday, while Drew Rucinski is lined up for Oakland. The game seems well-positioned for more crooked numbers, as Schmidt has a 5.83 ERA. Rucinski owns a 7.71 mark, and he’ll have to deal with Aaron Judge returning to the Yankees’ lineup following a hip strain.
Jhony Brito and Kyle Muller, who both have ERAs above 6.00, are the probable pitchers for Wednesday’s matinée.
Source: Berkshire mont