December 7, 2022

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Yanks cap 'full team homestand' with 2nd straight sweep

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NEW YORK — Jameson Taillon watched from behind the Yankee Stadium mound on Thursday afternoon as a sinking fifth-inning liner popped out of Aaron Judge’s glove, drawing manager Aaron Boone toward the dugout steps for the first pitching change of the afternoon.

The manager confidently told his starting pitcher: “We’re hanging right in there; we’re gonna get ‘em.” Taillon nodded, then saw those words prove prophetic. The Yankees rallied for four unearned runs in the home half of that frame, then continued to pound hits, completing their perfect homestand with a 10-5 victory over the Orioles.

“Back-to-back sweeps, and both teams weren’t rolling over or anything like that,” Taillon said. “We got contributions from everyone up and down, from different guys in the bullpen to different guys in the rotation. More than anything, it’s coming from all of the guys on the roster, not just a few.”

Having logged six straight wins over the Guardians and O’s, the first-place Yankees have won eight of their last nine games and 13 of 19 overall — including 10 of 13 in the Bronx. Judge homered and drove in a season-high four runs, helping New York post a double-digit run total for the third time in four games.

In Boone’s view, the Yanks’ recent success has been sparked by equal parts hitting, pitching and defense. Over the homestand, they slashed .300/.360/.570 and notched 14 home runs and 44 RBIs, outscoring Cleveland and Baltimore by a 46-22 margin.

“It’s a really focused group,” Boone said. “To see them really start to play well and get results … I feel like everyone on the roster is contributing. That’s always nice, when it’s different guys having a big hand in it almost every day. We’ve just got to keep working at it and hopefully start a good road trip.”

Hits with runners in scoring position, in short supply early in the season, have also started to fall — the Yankees were 15-for-48 (.313) in such situations over the homestand.

“I think playing well at home is going to energize our fan base more and more throughout the summer, especially as it warms up,” said Anthony Rizzo, who contributed a double and an RBI single while extending his hitting streak to eight games. “I think guys are settling in more, getting more comfortable with their routine.”

Taillon had scattered seven hits and one walk over the first 4 2/3 innings, though with his pitch count at 83, there was a case to be made that he could stay in the game. Rougned Odor was the next batter, and Taillon had already fanned the former Yankee twice.

Boone preferred the options in his bullpen, and he pushed all of the right buttons — Miguel Castro to Wandy Peralta to Jonathan Loáisiga to Chad Green — until rookie Ron Marinaccio coughed up three runs in the top of the ninth that sliced into an eight-run lead.

Bounce-back performances by Loáisiga and Green seemed especially significant; as a staff, the Yanks have posted a 2.92 ERA with 187 strikeouts in 19 games.

“I was going to send Green out there for the ninth if we didn’t score and it stayed at a four-run game,” Boone said. “I thought he was efficient and throwing the ball well. It was good to get those guys in and throwing the ball the way they did today.”

Finally, though the Yanks’ glovework was not beautiful — swirling winds wreaked havoc on fielders, particularly Ryan McKenna’s ground-rule double in the second inning that eluded center fielder Tim Locastro — New York extended its errorless streak to 12 games, the club’s longest since Sept. 26, 2012-April 5, 2013.

Errors are hardly an all-encompassing lens to evaluate defensive performance, of course, but the eye test certainly showed New York’s defense as far better than Baltimore’s.

The O’s committed a season-high five errors in the matinee, two apiece by third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez and shortstop Jorge Mateo. Boone acknowledged that the Yankees “got some help today with some misplays.”

“Whenever you get extra outs in a baseball game, you always want to cash in on those,” Rizzo said. “It was a full team homestand.”

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