SAN FRANCISCO – The jokes have been exhausted at this point regarding the lineups Aaron Boone sends out daily, thanks to an injury epidemic that won’t end.
Such as: It’s the kind of lineup the Yankees might send to Fort Myers for a late spring training game against the Twins that might get the club fined for not having enough regulars.
And so on and so forth.
But even Friday night’s lineup stood out for sheer absurdity.
Wanting to give centerfielder Brett Gardner a night off, Boone went with newest Yankee Cameron Maybin in right, Mike Tauchman in center and rookie Thairo Estrada — whose career outfield experience consisted of the previous three days of taking fly balls there in pregame drills — in left.
“It’s crazy,” Luke Voit said with a laugh. “It’s like we get a new face in the locker room every day.”
And once again, it worked. All of it.
The trio held their own in the field and at the plate, and with James Paxton throwing 5 2⁄3 solid innings, the Yankees won for the ninth time in 11 games, beating the Giants, 7-3, in front of 34,950 at Oracle Park.
“Our confidence,” Voit said, “is through the roof right now.”
The Yankees (15-11), who outhit the offensively challenged Giants 15-5, improved to 4-1 on this nine-game, three-city western trip. Their 1-4 hitters, DJ LeMahieu, Voit, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela, totaled 10 hits — three each by LeMahieu and Voit and two each by Torres and Urshela.
“Obviously,” Aaron Boone said, “a different-looking lineup for us tonight. But guys up and down the order just stepped it up. DJ set the tone with the double out of the gate, Luke had another great night, Gleyber, Urshela…everyone chipped in, and that’s how it’s had to be lately.”
Voit hit a two-run homer in the ninth -- his 414-foot drive to centerfield went just over the leaping Kevin Pillar’s glove -- to make it 7-3. It was his eighth homer in 98 at-bats in 26 games this season. Beginning Aug. 24, 2018, he has hit 22 home runs in 212 at-bats in 58 games.
Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner did not pitch like the ace he once was. The former World Series hero, now 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA, allowed five runs and 11 hits in 5 2⁄3 innings. Paxton, who struck out 12 in each of his two previous starts, struck out eight Friday and allowed three runs, five hits and two walks.
“[Austin] Romine did a great job behind the plate just kind of mixing it up,” said Paxton, who improved to 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA. “Used my curveball a little bit more because I didn’t have the great cutter tonight. And moving the fastball around inside effectively on those guys.”
With the Yankees leading 5-3 and two outs in the seventh, Zack Britton inserted some late theater, walking Pillar, Tyler Austin and Brandon Belt to load the bases, necessitating a call for Adam Ottavino. The righthander struck out the dangerous Buster Posey looking at a filthy front-door slider.
“My mindset was to just get ahead in the count,” said Ottavino, who struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. “He’s such a great player, it’s not a guy you’re excited about facing. A future Hall of Famer probably. Ultimately with him it’s a chess match, and I fare pretty well when it’s that type of situation.”
The Yankees gave Paxton a lead before he threw pitch No. 1, making Bumgarner throw 33 pitches in the top of the first.
LeMahieu, one of the few Yankees with experience vs. Bumgarner — 11-for-44 with two doubles and a homer coming in — lashed a 2-and-2 cutter into the gap in left-center for a leadoff double. Voit moved him over with a flyout to deep right and Torres yanked a 2-and-2 curveball over the third-base bag for an RBI double. Urshela then banged a ground single to left and Maybin, in his first at-bat as a Yankee after being acquired from the Indians on Thursday, lined a first-pitch cutter to center for a single and a 2-0 lead.
The Giants (11-15) got one of the runs back in the bottom half. Former Yankee Austin, obtained from the Twins just after the start of the regular season, lined a one-out single to right. Belt doubled down the rightfield line to put runners at second and third and Posey’s sacrifice fly made it 2-1. Remarkably, it was the first first-inning run scored by the Giants this season.
In the third, Voit extended his on-base streak to 37 straight games (26 straight to start the 2019 season) with a line-drive single to right. Only Mark Teixeira has had a longer streak as a Yankee since the start of 2005, reaching in 42 straight games from June 6-July 26, 2010.
Torres’ sacrifice bunt put Voit on second and Urshela’s RBI single made it 3-1. Voit added an RBI double in the fifth and Estrada’s RBI single in the sixth made it 5-1.
“It’s fun, man,” Voit said. “No one thinks we should be winning these games. But everyone in the clubhouse, before the game, after the game, it’s just like everyone’s cheering for each other. All these guys are coming in and doing their job.”