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Youthful Yankees a hit so far

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Photograph by Jason Turek

Caption: Gary Sanchez leads off of second base after hitting a double against the Mets at Yankee Stadium

When the New York Yankees were sellers during the trade deadline, they ultimately decided to stock up on young talent and give their youngsters a chance to play in the big leagues. It was assumed by many that they were waving the white flag and retooling for next season. Well, no one gave the memo to the players and if they did, it certainly didn’t come from the front office. Despite what was perceived, the Yankees have actually done the opposite, displaying a surge in an area that was lacking, the offense.

Making the playoffs may still be a longshot, but the youth has already made a great impression four games into the new era and can still play some meaningful games in September.

After Alex Rodriguez was shown the door (as a player) last Friday, the “baby bombers” made a great first impression the following day to their fans and the 1996 Yankee championship team that was celebrated prior to game as Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge hit home runs in their first plate appearance, a first in Major League Baseball history, in back-to-back fashion.

In fact, the team hit five home runs in total that game, all by players the age of 26 and younger. Second baseman Starlin Castro hit a solo home runs and has picked up the slack left by the recently traded Carlos Beltran as a key player getting hits with runners in scoring position. Heading into Saturday’s game, he had 10 hits in his last 20 at-bats in that situation.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks was highly considered a player in the Yankees outfield for years to come when the team traded for him in the offseason. It’s been a struggle for him at the plate all season, but he hit a home run for the second consecutive game. And shortstop Didi Gregorius, who moved into the cleanup spot for this game, provided a two-run shot. The five home runs led the team to an 8-4 win.

Catcher/Designated Hitter Gary Sanchez, who is another of the young players who was called up by the Bronx Bombers to replace Rodriguez , has been another steady player. Although he didn’t get a hit in Saturday’s win, he did hit a home run the following day in a loss to the Rays, and belted two more against the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday despite a losing effort. He collected two hits in the opening game of the three-game series Monday.

Judge drove in the only run of the game with an RBI double to aide fellow rookie pitcher Chad Green, who gave the pitching staff a nice shot in the arm with a dominating performance, striking out 11 and walking none while giving up only two hits over six innings.

The Yankees looked poised to take the second game as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the Jays yesterday, with the two home runs by Sanchez and Gregorius hitting his 16th home run of the season, but were brought down to Earth a bit as the division-leading Jays scored 12 consecutive runs and took the second game of the series.

The team has hovered just above .500 all season and the younger squad has posted a 2-2 record heading into the series finale with the Jays today. The record may not change all that much, but it wasn’t getting any better with the aging roster it had before the trade deadline and the release of Rodriguez. It will be exciting to see the development of these young players, along with the others acquired in at the trade deadline in the farm system, and what they can bring to the team in the years to come.