NEW YORK — Anthony Rizzo tested the size limits of Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night and walked away with his first career three-home run game.
More on that later.
Because Joey Gallo went deep for the first time this year.
“Yeah, that was good,” Gallo said as he heard a few thousand fans sing, “Jo-ey, Jo-ey!” his last time, instead of the usual venom.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a positive reception.”
Gallo even received the old quiet treatment from teammates after his fourth-inning blast, one of five homers for the Yankees in a tougher-than-expected 12-8 win over the last-place Baltimore Orioles.
“I wish I had a better start, but it’s been a long season,” said Gallo, who had just collected his first extra hit (a double) and RBI in the Yankees’ previous game.
“I’m happy to have hit the first home run.”
The longest ride of the night
Rizzo became the 24th Yankee to hit three or more homers in a regular season game, and the first since Kyle Higashioka did so against the Blue Jays in 2020.
Aaron Judge celebrated his 30th birthday by connecting ahead of Rizzo in the eighth; it was Judge’s fourth home run of the year and his third since Friday.
But Gallo had the most impressive drive of the night, punishing Jordan Lyles’ 0-1 delivery in the opposite direction, estimated by Statcast to have gone 426 feet.
“A great swing on a changeover,” Rizzo said of the Gallo circuit, adding wryly that “it’s the first time anyone’s seen him smile. We were pumped.”
In turn, Gallo said “my teammates have supported me” through an even tougher time than last summer’s striped debut, leaving Texas via trade and watching the strikeouts pile up.
April’s frustration was compounded by change-trapped line drives and various hard-hit pitches that resulted in takedowns.
“Hit some really good balls this year,” Gallo said, showing nothing for it.
The 3 circuits of Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo’s “Game I’ll Never Forget” took his MLB-leading homer total to eight, and it could only happen at Yankee Stadium.
Recording six RBIs on Tuesday, Rizzo’s first homer — a three-run shot — was a 348-foot fly ball right that wouldn’t have produced a homer at any other current stadium.
Rizzo’s third homer, another big fly, landed just above the 314-foot marker.
But these are back-to-back games where the Yankees (11-6) have scored in double figures, having averaged three points per game since Opening Day.
They’ve won six of their last seven games, boosted lately by what had been a dormant offense.
On Tuesday, Giancarlo Stanton (2 for 4, RBI) broke his 2 for 27 funk, DJ LeMahieu (2 for 5) extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games and Gleyber Torres capped three good at bats. by lining up a three-point triple.
“It’s good to see us keep adding,” manager Aaron Boone said after his club’s fourth straight win. “Because it won’t be perfect every night.”
Fight back and forth
After striking out the Orioles’ first 14 (6-11) on Tuesday and taking a no-hitter in the sixth, a Tiring Luis Severino was charged with four runs — stung by Anthony Santander’s three-point shot.
So vital to the Yanks’ late-game backup corps last season, Jonathan Loaisiga’s inconsistent start to 2022 continued.
Austin Hays’ three-run homer in the eighth against Loaisiga made it a two-run game and required the presence of Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, after he warmed up for a second time on Tuesday night.
In the end, Rizzo was called in for an encore by what was left of an announced crowd of 28,596 fans on a cool, damp night in late April.
But the silence Gallo received in the dugout was – in some ways – the best reception of the night.
If Gallo has indeed joined the party, the Yankees may well realize the best hopes for this 2022 lineup.
Pete Caldera is the author of Yankees beats for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, transactions and more, please sign up today and download our app.