For a moment, all seemed lost for the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
The team went into the bottom of the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead over the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. Then, the Bronx Bombers saw that lead disappear when closer Andrew Miller served up the game-tying home run to Dioner Navarro. It was only Miller’s second blown save of the season.
It was the rookie Gregory Bird who was the hero that came through for the Yankees that night.
In the top of the tenth inning, Bird, a 22-year-old rookie first baseman, smacked a go-ahead three-run home run over the right field wall. His long ball gave the Yankees a 6-3 lead, and they went on to beat the Blue Jays 6-4.
Since making his Major League debut on August 13, Bird’s power hitting prowess has been on full display. In just 35 games, the rookie has already hit 10 home runs and amassed 28 RBIs.
While those numbers are certainly impressive, Bird’s ability to hit in the clutch has been even more astounding.
In the month of September, when every game seems like a playoff game, Bird has 8 home runs and 18 RBIs. Mix in a .338 OBP and a 1.019 OPS, and you have the numbers of player who is doing his best hitting when his team needs it the most.
Bird’s home runs are not just plentiful, they are also meaningful. Of his 10 home runs, six have given the Yankees the lead.
"“I know it sounds cliche, me saying keep it simple, but every day you try to play the game and try to do things you’re not capable of, you’re going to be caught up in trying to do too much,” Beltran told Kuty. “So right now [Bird] seems like he’s just approaching the game with the right mentality.”"
Tuesday night’s game-winning home run should go down as one of the most important hits of the 2015 season for the Yankees. It lifted a team that was on the precipice of defeat, and launched them toward the thrill of victory. Many would assume that a clutch hit of that magnitude would be delivered by one of the Yankees’ many household names. However, it was Bird, a kid who spent most of the year in the minor leagues, who stepped up when the Yankees needed it most.
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