DJ LeMahieu lined the pitch into right against the Mariners Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, bringing around Cameron Maybin from second with a joy-inducing walk-off single.
“It’s one of the better feelings in baseball,” LeMahieu said before he went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Yankees’ 10-1 loss to Seattle Wednesday night.
After Mike Tauchman doubled to ruin Yusei Kikuchi’s no-hit bid with one out in the sixth, LeMahieu lined another hit to right with a runner in scoring position. Tauchman had to stop at third, but this RISP single set up a sac fly by Luke Voit to ruin Kikuchi’s shutout.
LeMahieu has brought a lot to the Yankees already this season after moving on from the Rockies and signing a two-year, $24 million deal. The three-time NL Gold Glove-winning second baseman, two-time NL All-Star and one-time NL batting champ has made just two errors and his high-contact bat has produced a robust .339 average with a homer and 19 RBIs.
But his knack for delivering with a runner or runners in scoring position has especially stood out. He has an RISP average of .517, going 15-for-29 with 16 RBIs, including three sacrifice flies.
“Maybe a little bit more focus, but I try to have good at-bats no matter,” LeMahieu said. “But I just think naturally you just focus a little bit more. I think everyone does. Just fortunate to come through with some hits at big times right now.”
LeMahieu arrived in the Bronx at the age 30 after seven seasons in the thin air at Coors Field. The idea was for him to move around the infield. But injuries sent him regularly to third and then second.
He has hit safety in 10 straight games and reached safety in 25 of his 32 overall. This was his 16th time leading off.
“He’s a really good baseball player,” Aaron Boone said. “Great bat-and-ball skills. Has experience so he knows as far as developing a plan when he goes to the plate. A really good defender, obviously. Now this year playing different positions, he’s handled that well, not to our surprise.”
His NL batting title came with a .348 average in 2016. The .330 average at the start of this latest game had him fifth in the AL batting race. But he isn’t pining to become a batting champ in both leagues.
“I mean, it’s cool,” LeMahieu said, “but that’s one of the last things on my mind right now.”
This isn’t someone who’s a big talker.
“But there’s a quiet intensity to him,” Boone said. “There’s a work ethic and an intensity to his work behind the scenes that I think guys have gravitated to and guys have appreciated and warmed up to.
“I think if you asked him . . . he’s come over and I think very much felt at home.”
“It couldn’t be working out any better,” LeMahieu said. “I’m just in a good place. Obviously, this team is special, so it’s a great opportunity.”