With some of the Yankees’ highest-paid hitters continuing to struggle or on the bench Wednesday, a pair of non-roster invitees carried the offense against Mariners ace Luis Castillo.
Jake Bauers struck first in the Yankees’ 4-2 win, planting a Castillo fastball into Yankee Stadium’s right field seats with a two-run homer. With Anthony Volpe on first, Bauers watched as his sixth home run of the year towered over the porch.
“Jake’s done a really good job of impacting the ball, and especially in the leadoff spot lately,” Aaron Boone said afterward. “I feel like he’s had really competitive at-bats.”
Bauers, who played for the Mariners in 2021 before spending all of 2022 in the minors, now has eight doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI since the Yankees began a series in Seattle on May 29. The April 29 call-up has also hit .274 over that span.
“I’m just in a place where I don’t have to worry about my swing,” Bauers said. I’m worried more about my preparation. I’m worried more about being consistent. I’m worried more about executing a game plan.”
Billy McKinney, meanwhile, has now reached base in all 12 of the games he’s played in since joining the Yankees on June 7, and he’s recorded a hit in 11 of them. On Wednesday, that included his second home run in as many days, a 414-foot shot off Castillo that landed in the second deck.
McKinney totaled two hits and raised his average to .317 in the victory.
“I’m not sure,” McKinney said when asked if this is the best stretch of his journeyman career. “That’s a good question. I’d have to take a look. But I’m just glad to get on base and help the team anyway, anyhow. I’m just glad we got the win.”
Castillo, who has tormented the Yankees in the past, only lasted five innings and issued four walks.
The Yankees scored another run in the seventh inning when Volpe hit the 10th dinger of his young career off Gabe Speier. Only June, Volpe now has as many home runs and more stolen bases (15) than Derek Jeter had during his entire rookie season.
As Bauers, McKinney and Volpe enjoyed powerful nights, Giancarlo Stanton received a day of rest Wednesday — despite several recent off days — while DJ LeMahieu remained out of the lineup as he continued to make adjustments at the plate. Josh Donaldson went 0-for-4 as his average dropped to .133 and boos grew louder in the Bronx.
“I think he wants to show ‘em because he knows he’s got it in there,” Boone said when asked about Donaldson and the jeering fans. “So there’s probably a little bit of that wanting to show ‘em and wanting to perform. I really think up until the last two nights, he’s been a little unlucky with his results.”
Fortunately for the Bombers, Jhony Brito pitched better than his 5.58 ERA after being called up for a spot start.
The 25-year-old, who unexpectedly began the season in the majors due to injuries in the Yankees’ rotation, kept the Mariners off the board for 5.2 innings, and he only allowed two hits. Brito also walked one and struck out three over 81 pitches in his 11th big league outing.
“Couldn’t ask for much more than that,” Boone said. “Was pitch efficient, too. Really, really proud of him and that start.”
The Mariners’ first run came on a Dylan Moore solo homer off Wandy Peralta in the eighth, while their second stemmed from a Jarred Kelenic sacrifice fly in the ninth. Michael King made things dicey in the final frame, but Tommy Kahnle cleaned up the mess and recorded the save.
While the Yankees didn’t play flawlessly again — Gleyber Torres didn’t seem to know the situation when he got doubled off in the fifth inning — the team picked up its second straight win after ending its recent road trip with a four-game skid.
The Mariners will look to avoid a sweep on Thursday when they send Bryan Woo to the mound. Domingo German will start for the Yankees.
Meanwhile, Willie Calhoun, another contributing non-roster invitee, is likely heading to the injured list after hurting his left quad while running down the line Wednesday.
Calhoun expected to have an MRI on Thursday, but he felt his quad “pop” and is prepared for an absence.
“I won’t be able to run at all on my left leg,” he said. “It doesn’t feel too great right now.”
Calhoun added that he suffered a similar injury a few years ago. That kept him out for 3-4 weeks following a PRP shot.
“It is frustrating,” Calhoun said. “But I’m gonna do everything I can to try to get back as fast I can and help the team. We have a good medical staff here, so I fully believe in them.”
Source: Berkshire mont