Remember all those questions about Anthony Rizzo’s declining power numbers this spring when the Yankees re-signed him? Well the slugger is beginning to answer them.
Rizzo had his first career three-home run Tuesday night, driving in six runs, as the Bombers beat the Orioles 12-8 at the Stadium.
It was the season-high fourth straight win for the Yankees (11-6) and their sixth out of the last seven games since losing a series in Baltimore. The Orioles (6-11) have lost two straight.
Rizzo now leads the majors with eighth home runs and leads the Yankees with 18 RBI. Aaron Judge hit his fourth of the season on his 30th birthday, Gleyber Torres drove in three with a triple, his first of the season. Luis Severino took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and Joey Gallo hit his first homer since September.
Rizzo hit his sixth homer of the season in the third inning off starter Jordan Lyles, a three run shot to the short-porch in right field, a 346-footer. In the fifth, he hit a two-run, 378-foot shot into right field off Lyles for his big-league leading seventh homer.
He added on in the eighth with a 327-foot shot that dropped just over the fence in the corner of right field at the foul pole.
It was the 33rd time a Yankee had hit three home runs in a regular season game and the first time since Kyle Higashioka did it against the Blue Jays on Sept. 16, 2020.
For Rizzo, it was the 20th multi-home run game of his career and his first as a Yankee. His last two homer game was almost a year ago, April 18, 2021, with the Cubs.
When the Yankees re-signed the lefty hitting slugger last month, there were concerns about his declining power numbers. According to Baseball Savant, his Hard Hit % was only in the 49 percentile and his XSlG % was in the 54th last season. So far this season, the quality of Rizzo’s hits are better. He’s in the 72 percentile in hard hit % and 96th in XSLG%.
Aaron Boone, however, never saw an aging slugger losing his power.
“I remember talking to (Cubs manager) David Ross the day we traded for him and he said he’s really starting to get hot and we saw that right away. And then you know he got COVID and it kind of derailed him a little bit. He got it pretty good where he didn’t feel real good and was out those 10 days and kind of derailed the momentum he had started to build in Chicago and then when he first got here,” the Yankees manager said. “I think we’re seeing a settled, great player, just kind of entrenched in the middle of everything we do and he’s such an anchor for us defensively in the middle of our lineup from the left handed side. He’s voice in our room, besides just being a great player there are many tangible things he brings to the table on a daily basis that have been really, really impactful.
“And I think being here now, after last year and kind of getting entrenched and leading in his way. Starting when he got into spring training, he has been really valuable.”
That’s the offense the Yankees have been searching for to back up what has been their stellar pitching this season. Tuesday it helped hold off the Orioles despite the four runs the Yankees bullpen gave up, three charged to Lucas Luetge and one to Jonathan Loaisiga, who gave up a three-run shot to Austin Hays.
The Yankees got another strong start from Severino, who went six innings, allowing four runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out five. The right-hander threw 77 pitches, 50 for strikes. He got 10 swings-and-misses; four on his slider, three on the changeup and three on his four-seam fastball.
Severino took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He allowed his first base-runner in the fifth on a walk to Hays and then the Orioles No.9 hitter Jorge Mateo lined a single into left to break up the no-hit bid. Severino walked Cedric Mullins on five pitches and then Anthony Santander homered to cut the Yankees six-run lead in half.
Severino finished up six innings and started the seventh by giving up a double to Rougned Odor.