The Yankees have hit a lot of home runs.
But even for the Yankees, 6-home run games are pretty rare, and Wednesday night marked the first time in the club’s storied history that it had consecutive 6-homer games, hitting 7 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees have always had guys who hit home runs, ever since Babe Ruth made it the cool thing to do a century ago, with his first 50-homer season. It’s not just the guys you’ve heard of, but it’s the luxury of having former stars like Johnny Mize or Darryl Strawberry on the bench to pop 20 homers in part-time play. Oscar Gamble was another, and here is an obligatory pic of his incredible 1970s ’fro from one of the most memorable Topps cards ever.
But part of the Yankees mystique has been their ability to come up with guys out of nowhere to hit balls over the fence, getting hot and carrying the team for short stretches. Kevin Maas, Shane Spencer, Glenallen Hill. Jim Spencer, whom your dad might remember. Johnny Blanchard, from your grandfather’s generation.
Kyle Higashioka is the latest. The 30-year-old backup catcher, who hit exactly three home runs in 2018 and 2019, matched that total on Wednesday — becoming the third Yankees catcher to accomplish the feat. The previous two were Hall of Famer Bill Dickey and Just A Guy Mike Stanley. The Yankees have had a lot of great catchers, but Elston Howard, Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada never did it. Gary Sanchez did it as the DH last year.
“One minute you can’t hit the ball to save your life,” said Higashioka, who came into Wednesday with a not-so-nice .160 average. “And the next game you pop three over the fence.”
That’s baseball, Suzyn.
Then there’s Luke Voit. Voit blasted his major-league leading 19th home run in the 13-2 laugher over Toronto. Voit is 29 and is just two off his career-high of 21 set last season in 429 ABs (just 168 this year). D.J. LaMahieu hit two home runs, including his fifth leadoff homer of the season.
It was a nice welcome back for a healthy Aaron Judge (words that have rarely been uttered), who did not participate in the offensive orgy but did get to the 69 at-bat mark (nice). Judge was an old rookie, 25, when he hit 52 home runs in 2017 and it feels like he’s still trying to establish himself, but he’s only eight months younger than Mike Trout.
No matter. History, home runs and the Yankees are inevitable. If they can score 33 runs in two games without Judge chipping in, they’ll find a way to not only survive, but thrive without him. Oh, and Giancarlo Stanton is also back.