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Yankees score six runs in first two innings, cruise to big victory over Rockies

Yankees designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (30) hits an

Yankees designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (30) hits an RBI single against the Colorado Rockies during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Jul 20, 2019. Photo Credit: Brad Penner/Brad Penner

And then, sometimes you can predict baseball.

The Rockies' cadre of bad starting pitching didn’t seem a good matchup for Colorado against the red-hot Yankees. Two games into a series that has been a predictable mismatch, that indeed has been the case.

The Yankees knocked out the latest victim, Antonio Senzatela, after 1 1/3 innings Saturday in cruising to an 11-5 victory in front of 41,499 on a blistering 94-degree afternoon at the Stadium.

“To be able to run out to a big lead today on a hot day when I think it was a challenge for everyone, pitchers, hitters, it was important,” Aaron Boone said. “Just a lot of contributions, up and down [the lineup] again.”

It was the 23rd victory in 29 games for the AL East-leading Yankees, who have the best record in the majors at 64-33. They are 10 games ahead of the second-place Rays, 11 games ahead of the third-place Red Sox and 12 ahead of both in the loss column.

Masahiro Tanaka benefited from the early run support — the Yankees had nine runs and 11 hits before the Rockies could record a second out in the fourth inning — but his stuff was terrific through five innings. Tanaka, a master of pitch efficiency in that span, throwing only 47, finally was touched up in a five-run sixth that included a three-run homer by Nolan Arenado. Tanaka (7-5, 4.00), who threw 38 pitches in the sixth, allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings.

Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu, again abusing the team with which he spent the previous seven seasons, finished with three hits each. Edwin Encarnacion drove in three runs, giving him 14 RBIs in his last eight games. The Yankees finished with 14 hits, five walks and a hit batsman.

“It means we can do it without a homer,” said Austin Romine, who had two hits. “Everybody likes to think we’re the Bombers, but this team has been doing it here and there without home runs. It just shows you we can keep going, we can get base hits when we need them, move guys when we need to. We’re just playing [good] baseball.”

After winning the series opener Friday night, 8-2, the Yankees immediately jumped on Senzaleta, who entered the game at 8-6 but with a 5.79 ERA. Two batters and 10 pitches in, they had the lead.

LeMahieu, who upped his American League-leading average to .334, made it 25 out of his last 27 games with at least one hit with a leadoff single. Aaron Judge followed by ripping a 2-and-2 fastball into the gap in left-center for an RBI double.

The Yankees added on in the second. And on. And on.

Didi Gregorius led off with a double and Torres slashed a single to left. Senzatela caught the throw back into the infield and tried to get Torres at second, but the throw sailed into the outfield, allowing Gregorius to score and putting Torres on third. Romine dumped an RBI single to right-center to make it 3-0, and after Brett Gardner struck out, LeMahieu and Judge walked to load the bases. Aaron Hicks had an RBI single and Encarnacion rifled a two-run double down the leftfield line to make it 6-0 and end, mercifully for the Rockies, Senzatela’s afternoon.

It was more production with the bases loaded, a situation in which the Yankees entered the day with a .415/.447/.671 slash line, six doubles, five grand slams and 104 RBIs.

Chad Bettis replaced Senzatela in the second, got out of it and pitched a scoreless third before being hit hard in the fourth. Gregorius singled home a run and Torres’ two-run single made it 9-0 and knocked out Bettis.

“Just a lot of really good at-bats in a row,” said LeMahieu, who started the game at third, shifted to first when Voit came out of the game in the fifth and made a highlight-reel play there to end the game. “We had the pitchers on the ropes and we just kept having really good at-bats and put us up to a pretty good lead.”

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