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Three-homer game makes history, and makes Ronald Guzman happy his dad was there to see it

Ronald Guzman celebrates his sixth-inning home run against

Ronald Guzman celebrates his sixth-inning home run against the  Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. He hit three in the game.   Credit: Jim McIsaac

By Saturday morning, Texas rookie first baseman Ronald Guzman  had started to appreciate  the significance of his three-homer performance against the Yankees on Friday night.

“You always dream about being in the big leagues,” Guzman said before the Yankees'  5-3 victory on Saturday.  “But being part of history now is a really big achievement for me.”

Guzman became the first player in major league history to hit a home run in each of his first four career games against the Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

What made the accomplishment even more special for the native of the  Dominican Republic  was that he did it in front of his father, Manuel, who — because of a fear of flying  —  watched him play a professional game for the first time.

“I’m speechless. I can’t put words together,” said Guzman, who was 0-for-2 with two walks Saturday. “[My father] was the one who took me on the field when I was 4 years old . . .  For him to be here and for me to do that in his first game, and seeing his reaction, was priceless.”

Rangers manager Jeff Banister chuckled Saturday when he heard some of the historical context of Guzman’s three-homer night (he hit two against Masahiro Tanaka and one against A.J. Cole).

“It’s pretty incredible to do it against anybody,” Banister said. “However, when you do it against a storied franchise like [the Yankees], it probably puts it at the top of the list for a young guy.

“If you know Ronald Guzman, he’s just a really gregarious, humble kid, and for it to happen to him is pretty special.”

What the 23-year-old has accomplished against the Yankees this season has been special. Guzman is 8-for-17 (.471) with seven runs scored, eight RBIs and six home runs — the most ever by a Rangers player against the Yankees in one season.

Even Guzman was at a loss to explain why half of his homers this season have come against the Yankees.

“To be honest, it just feels good to be able to help the team,” he said, “put some good at-bats together and get some wins.”

But there’s more to it than that. Guzman makes sure he’s the first one in the batting cage, usually 30 minutes before any of his Rangers teammates arrive. It's  something he did Saturday and has done since the beginning of his six-year minor-league career.

“I don’t like hitting with [other] people,” said Guzman, who entered the game with a .245/.315/.439 slash line, 12 home runs and 46 RBIs this season. “I came in early and started to get my routine down.”

He also rented a house in New Jersey for 10 family members and friends about a half-hour from the Stadium for the four-game series.  His mom, Margarita, was able to cook for Guzman and the whole clan. The secret meal before Friday’s game?

“I got some mangu [mashed plantains] with different cheeses, and Dominican kind of cheeses,” he said, “and I had it for breakfast [Saturday] again.”

Guzman has carried something special from his grandfather since he was a youngster.

“I was a Red Sox fan growing up. My grandfather was a big Pedro Martinez fan and Red Sox fan, so I never really liked the Yankees, to be honest,” said the 6-4, 225-pound lefthanded hitter. “Being able to do so well against them means a lot more to me.”

Guzman hopes to continue his solid play in the final weeks of this season and beyond.

“I still have a lot more at-bats to go,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been learning a lot and improving a lot, so I’m really excited for the future.”

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