When you're nearly 2-for-40 in your recent appearances, and your ongoing slump is the talk of the Yankees' broadcast booth during your at-bat, it probably feels extra nice to put a little mustard on a baseball.
That's exactly what surprise right fielder (and cleanup hitter) Jake Bauers did with two men on and one out in the first inning of Thursday's AL East showdown.
The Yankees entered this series hoping to play spoiler and absolutely did not deliver, falling 7-1 and 6-1 in their first two opportunities to knock the Blue Jays off their playoff pedestal. Thanks to Bauers wrapping a long home run around the right field foul pole, they got off to a significantly better start against Jose Berrios in the series finale.
And Bauers was extra proud of his (possibly brief, but still) return to his first-half level of performance. This long home run resembled his work from June and July, when he was one of the Yankees' OPS leaders (which is a lot like saying "the circus' foremost chemist," but still).
Yankees first baseman Jake Bauers struck early with three-run home run vs Jose Berrios
If Bauers is power ranking his 2023 moments, this sigh of relief probably falls somewhere in between "carrying the offense at Dodger Stadium" and 3,000 spots ahead "getting ice grilled by Harrison Bader".
Bauers certainly has some thunder in his bat, but more often than not it's gone dormant in the season's second half. If not for Billy McKinney's injury, he might've been a roster casualty when Brian Cashman waved his hand and decided to turn the keys over to the kids.
He certainly didn't make a very thorough argument for playing time during most of the month of September, but Gerrit Cole will long remember this three-run shot if it helps clear the path for his potential Cy Young win down the stretch. Bauers certainly soaked it in.