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Mike Tauchman continues to exemplify 'next man up' mentality keeping Yankees red hot

Yankees' Mike Tauchman follows through on a two-run

Yankees' Mike Tauchman follows through on a two-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Baltimore. Credit: AP/Gail Burton

BALTIMORE — The six through nine hitters used by the Yankees Monday night against the Orioles resembled something they might send on the road late in spring training for a split-squad game.

Brett Gardner hit sixth, followed by Austin Romine, Mike Tauchman and Breyvic Valera.

In what has been par for the course this season for the Yankees, the quartet, naturally, went a combined 8-for-16 with four homers, a triple and seven RBIs in the 9-6 victory.

Tauchman stayed red hot at the plate, hitting two of those homers, with Romine and Gardner each contributing one. Tauchman added another one in the third inning Tuesday night against the Orioles.

Valera, called up last Wednesday for his second stint with the Yankees, hit a two-run triple in the fifth that snapped a tie at 1.

All of it — including, it should be pointed out, the go-ahead homer hit in the eighth inning by Mike Ford, the No. 5 hitter — was emblematic of the “next man up” mantra that every team with injuries talks about but few see come to fruition with regularity.

Certainly not to the extent, seemingly on an almost nightly basis, it’s happened for the Yankees in 2019.

“It doesn’t really surprise me, that [word] wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind,” Aaron Judge said over the weekend of the Yankees building the kind of lead they have in the AL East. They are nine games over the Rays and 14 1/2 over the Red Sox entering Tuesday — despite placing, to that point, 25 players on the injured list. “Just because, like I’ve said before, what I saw in spring training when we’d go on the road and we’d have guys in Double-A or Triple-A and a couple of our major league guys, we’d put up eight, nine, 10 runs. So once everybody got hurt and a lot of these guys that would have been in Triple-A got a chance to come up here and play, it didn’t surprise me that guys would go off.”

Among the group coming up and producing after the initial wave of injuries at the start of the season were Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier and Thairo Estrada, to name a few.

“I don’t think you can say enough about the meaningful contributions we’ve gotten from so many guys,” Aaron Boone said.

Tauchman, acquired last in the spring from the Rockies in exchange for lefty Phillip Diehl, has led the way for this latest group of call-ups, though he also provided a boost earlier in the season when the run of injuries started in the outfield.

But that was primarily on defense.
In this fourth stint up with the big-league club, the 28-year-old’s bat has been a revelation.

In his last 20 games going into Tuesday, Tauchman, while still playing standout defense, slashed .438/.486/.797 with a 1.283 OPS. Since the All-Star break, the lefty-swinging Tauchman is hitting an MLB-best .429.

Tauchman said what he’s seen from the call-ups hasn’t surprised him in the least.

“I was with those guys in Scranton so I witnessed [it] first-hand,” he said. “When guys come up here, they know they’re going to play, they know that the team’s rolling and it’s just, culturally, it’s when you’re here, you’re going to be counted on and we [know we] have the full support of the team, and it’s just time to attack with a lot of positivity and enthusiasm.”

As for his success, Tauchman said it’s all about getting a chance.

“Having an opportunity to get in the lineup and contribute to wins, honestly, that’s all I think a ballplayer wants is just to try to contribute to that team’s win that day,’’ he said. “It’s been going well.”

The Yankees are 11-0 using “openers” this season. Chad Green has started nine games, Stephen Tarpley opened one in London and Jonathan Holder got the start Tuesday night in Baltimore. The results:

DATE OPENER IP RESULT

May 19 Green 1 2⁄3 Yankees 13, Rays 5

May 25 Green1Yankees 6, Royals 5

May 27Green 1Yankees 5, Padres 2

June 9Green 1 Yankees 7, Indians 6

June 15 Green 1 Yankees 8, White Sox 4

June 20Green 1 Yankees 10, Astros 6

June 25Green1 Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3

June 30Tarpley 1 Yankees 12, Red Sox 8

July 18Green 1Yankees 5, Rays 1

Aug. 3 Green 1Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

Aug. 6Holder XYankees X, Orioles X

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