Yankees unleash home run barrage, surge past Blue Jays in 8-4 win

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Yankees playing another night game at George M. Steinbrenner Field, they would have the dynamic duo of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge in the outfield again, with 2023 AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole on the mound. It was a game that had a chance to be a must-watch affair with a lot of the Yankees’ regulars in the lineup, and they delivered on the pre-game excitement. Once again we remind you that it’s Spring Training, and results aren’t important in these kinds of exhibition games, but it’s hard to not be excited about what the offense did today.

Powered by four home runs, two of which came from the bat of Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees would power past the Blue Jays in an 8-4 win on a beautiful Friday night.

Anthony Rizzo Leads Yankees’ Offensive Surge

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Mar 1, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; a general view of the stadium before a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankeesat George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole would take the mound and after two quick outs for the reigning Cy Young Award winner, the right-hander was ambushed by Daniel Vogelbach for a two-run blast. A triple to centerfield would knock him out for the remainder of the first inning, where prospect Harrison Cohen would need just one pitch to finish the at-bat and collect a strikeout. It would be smoother sailing for the 33-year-old ace in the second inning who collected a strikeout and tossed a scoreless frame, and he’d exit the game after hitting his pitch limit for the day in the third inning.

The Yankees brought their bats to the ballpark, with Everson Pereira tying up the game with a two-run blast that left the ballpark, starting what would be a home run barrage for the Bronx Bombers. He’d also add a single later in the game, and the outfield prospect is looking to impress the organization and remain in good standing after a rough debut season in 2023 where he struggled with his contact skills and couldn’t even hit a home run despite his monstrous raw power. He wasn’t the only outfielder to hit a bomb, however, as Juan Soto made sure to show up and make his presence felt.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Mar 1, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) signs autographs before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

He was a perfect 2-2 with a walk, driving a double into the gap, and capping off his incredible day at the dish with a blast to centerfield off of Chad Green. Spring Training results don’t matter, but we know that ‘The Generational’ Juan Soto is everything this lineup has needed for years. His left-handed power will change the lineup dynamic, and the team is going to have one of the best duos in all of baseball with him hitting in front of Aaron Judge this season. Despite his incredible performance at the plate, the star of the show was Anthony Rizzo.

Last season is something that the former All-Star is looking to put behind him after suffering a concussion that would place him on the injured list through the final two months of the season. Rizzo mashed a grand slam that broke the game wide open and then added a second home run later on in the contest for good measure, and it was a good sign to see him pull two balls into the right field stands. If he can add that kind of punch to the middle of the lineup, he’ll be the perfect compliment to Aaron Judge as he looks to have a season more like his 2022 campaign where he hit 32 home runs.

A storyline that was interesting to watch was seeing Austin Wells behind the dish catching Gerrit Cole, something we didn’t see at all last season, and it’ll be huge for the rookie catcher to get innings with the Yankees’ ace. Jose Trevino is expected to remain as Gerrit Cole’s preferred catcher, but if he can form a rapport with Austin Wells, then the Yankees might end up with better lineups during the season. He also collected a single that almost left the yard, clocking in at over 103 MPH off of the bat.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 18, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Austin Wells (88) prepares to warm up George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Some notable arms that entered today’s contest included Luke Weaver, who struck out one batter and allowed a home run in his two innings of work. He’s expected to be the team’s sixth starter and is using a much different leg kick this year, which is something to follow as the season carries on. The Yankees also saw some interesting depth arms looking to earn a better standing in the organization come into the contest and impress.

Dennis Santana would enter the contest and impress with a high-90s fastball, punching out four batters across two innings and opening up some eyes with his impressive arsenal. The right-hander has one of the most interesting pitch profiles among non-roster invites brought in over the winter by the Yankees and could earn a bullpen job during the season if the opportunity arises.

Oddainer Mosqueda, who was acquired in Minor League free agency from the Boston Red Sox, walked one batter but struck out three with an impressive breaking ball. The southpaw sports a low-90s sinker with a low-80s sweeping breaking ball that could earn him some looks during the season, as the Yankees are not particularly loaded with left-handed pitchers in the organization.

The Yankees are back in action tomorrow as Marcus Stroman gets the start on the road against the Baltimore Orioles, as he’ll look to improve upon his first start of Spring Training. Game time is at 1:05 PM and it’ll be a full-squad contest for the Bronx Bombers.

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