Ok ... hold it ... hold it ........... alright, now the summer's here for the 2023 Yankees.
Down 3-0 early to the Orioles and in danger of getting run out of their own building, home runs by Anthony Volpe and Kyle Higashioka brought the sleepwalking Yankees back within a run on Monday night. They ultimately tied the game against All-Star reliever Yennier Cano with a two-out, two-strike wild pitch to score Volpe from third, which should've been an indicator that things might go their way after all in the series opener.
But this is the 2023 Yankees. They don't hit consistently. They don't deliver in spotlight moments. And they certainly don't win in extra innings.
Luckily, this time they took care of business right after the skies opened up in the bottom of the eighth. Following singles by Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, Harrison Bader stepped up and saw a prime opportunity to break the opposing pitcher's brain. First pitch? Bunt attempt. Step off? Obvious bunt attempt. Now ... do you think he wanted to bunt, or do you think he wanted the Baltimore reliever to think about him bunting?
"Oh, it's a bunt, huh? Well, I can go with a hard fastball in. He might foul that off. But what if I don't get it in far enough? No, better to put some spin on it. Throw a nasty curveball. Those are tough to square up. Just don't get it too high in the zone and -- oh."
Yankees' center fielder Harrison Bader beats Orioles with third go-ahead hit, 8th inning or later in 2023
As a result of crafting a thick soup in reliever Danny Coulombe's head, Bader received a hanging cookie of a curveball and deposited it to left field into no doubter territory. It was Bader's first home run since his late-May return from the injured list, and it was as impactful as any swing he's taken since joining the Bombers last summer.
After returning to the dugout, Bader was spotted thanking Aaron Judge for a "tip" of some kind, which led to the trickery and mammoth game-winner. He was also spotted basking in the joy of being a Yankee. Hopefully, both players will be paired together in the outfield for several more years.
Think of the Yankees lineup. How many of them are comfortable offensively? How many of them are so comfortable offensively that they have the ability to play chess with two men on, none out in the eighth inning of a tie game against the AL East team directly ahead of them?
With Bader in this year's lineup, the undermanned Yankees are now 26-10. We wouldn't blame you if you didn't believe in this team, but Bader's certainly doing his best to make sure the team's struggles feel like one giant fake-out, too.