By the time first pitch rolled around Monday evening, it had been three days since the Yankees had played — basically an eternity during the everyday grind of a baseball season.
Would they remember how to hold a bat? Or did their collective rhythm wash away with pretty much everything else in Detroit over the weekend?
The short answer is nope, their rhythm didn’t suffer. The longer answer is not only that, but the Yankees were able to produce three days of offense in about . . . oh, three innings.
Instead of taking it out on the Tigers, though, they did it against Derek Jeter’s Marlins, to the tune of a 12-1 drubbing at Yankee Stadium.
“Right from jump street,” Aaron Boone said about how quickly the Yankees were able to get back in a groove. “The at-bat quality, the way they just grinded on [starter Caleb Smith] — I thought the focus to start off this homestand and after a few bad-weather days was strong.”
Luis Severino (3-1), who struggled his last time out, returned to form against one of the least dangerous lineups in baseball. He allowed one hit and one walk in six shutout innings, striking out eight.
Didi Gregorius homered twice, Aaron Judge also hit a home run and Gary Sanchez went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, twice producing with the bases loaded. He’s 7-for-20 in his career with three men on.
It was the second multi-homer game of the season for Gregorius, who homered in the fourth and seventh. “I think we’re seeing a 28-year-old that’s gotten better and better every year he’s been here,’’ Boone said. “We’re seeing a good player in the prime of his career.”
The Yankees scored in each of the first five innings and put up a crooked number in four of the five to take an 11-0 lead. For a team that hadn’t lived up to the hype its potent lineup created, it was a much-needed reminder of what these guys can do.
(Except, that is, for Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and earned another smattering of boos when he struck out in the seventh against his former team.)
Six players had at least two hits for the Yankees, who had 15 hits (eight for extra bases), drew eight walks and forced the Marlins’ first two pitchers, Smith and Tyler Cloyd, to throw 171 pitches in 5 2⁄3 innings, not many of them very good.
“The guys in front of me give you constant confidence because they’re always up on base so you want to drive them in to get the run in,” Gregorius said. “It’s just one of those things that help each other.”
Sanchez — whom Boone said is “close to where he can be Scary Gary” — had an RBI single and Tyler Austin drew a bases-loaded walk for a quick 2-0 lead. In the second, Judge drove Smith’s 2-and-1 fastball into the first few rows in right-center. It was his fourth homer of the season and his 60th in his 197th game. He reached that mark more quickly than any other player in MLB history, eclipsing Mark McGwire, who did it in 202 games. Judge extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Smith, meanwhile, continued to have a very bad night. He allowed the first three batters to reach in the third, culminating with Aaron Hicks’ two-run double, then got an out and issued his fifth walk. He allowed five runs in 2 1⁄3 innings and threw 84 pitches en route to those seven painful outs.
Games like these do happen when you’re the Marlins, a team that’s been infamously stripped of so many of its big names (Stanton being the most notable). The rebuild of a franchise with more debt than talent has led to a few embarrassing games, and so it made a strange sort of sense when, in the later innings, a handful of fans began to chant Jeter’s name.
Why wouldn’t they be grateful? All these years later, and he was still helping the Yankees score runs.