Every game the Yankees play against the Oakland A's is, in fact, a game against the A's. Astute point, Twitter Mob. But you've still gotta win 'em.
The Yankees dropped the first game of this three-game set 2-1, stranding the tying and winning runs on base in both the eighth and ninth inning. The sweep at Fenway Park nearly two weeks ago was a horrendous low point, but if you wanted to call Tuesday a "new low," we wouldn't argue with you.
Luckily, things not only turned around within the parameters of this three-game set, but they also ... got magical.
While Domingo Germán's perfect game rightly overshadowed the Yankees offense's explosion in the opener, the Bombers still did score 11 runs, a typical week's worth this June. On Thursday, the Yankees followed up that outburst by:
- Winning a Clarke Schmidt start for the first time in seven tries
- Winning their first game all year featuring a Josh Donaldson home run
- Winning thanks to Giancarlo Stanton hitting another fastball hard
- Continuing to get Chicken Parm Production from the Anthony Volpe spot
Volpe began Thursday's game 2-for-2 with two scalded singles and a walk, and even though he peaked at .213 before ripping another hard flyout to end the team's sixth-inning rally, there was no hiding his production in this comeback win.
Yankees top performers vs A's: Anthony Volpe, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, IKF
Again, the A's remain the A's. At no point, during the writing of this story, were the A's not the A's. Well aware who the Yankees were competing with this week.
But they lost the opener. And Volpe's production increase includes bouts with the Mets, Red Sox, Mariners and Rangers, too. His control of the zone, returning patience, and powerful swings date back at least to the M's series at home. Whatever tweak helped him, whether it was a natural inclination or something Austin Wells suggested over a plate of parm, it's helping him compete more confidently.
Oh, and speaking of confident ... Josh Donaldson still believes in himself. And he still believes he's allowed to bat flip. Donaldson's home run changed the game, and he sent a changeup 472 feet after sitting on the pitch.
If Donaldson's a guess hitter whose home runs no longer mean an "automatic loss" for the 2023 Yankees, that might be alright.
Add in Isiah Kiner-Falefa homering into Esteury Ruiz's glove, which then fell over the fence, and Stanton taking a 98+ MPH fastball over the right fielder's head, and Thursday's game might've featured as many rarities as Wednesday's perfect game.
But Volpe's strong at-bats are getting less and less rare by the day, and that might be the most important tidbit of all.