Alex Verdugo does a Martian feat against Verlander as Yankees outfox Astros

Yankees' Alex Verdugo is hitting a three-run homer off Astros' Verlander at Yankee Stadium on May 7, 2024.
Sara Molnick
Wednesday May 8, 2024

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Alex Verdugo‘s offensive outburst against Justin Verlander may have evoked memories of rookie Jasson Dominguez’s performance against the ace last year. Similar to the Martian, the lefty had limited prior encounters with Verlander, but he could recall his fastball with “some pretty good ride.” The left-handed slugger kept that in mind as he stepped up to the plate on Tuesday.

Alex Verdugo ignited the Bronx “Dawg Pound” against the Houston ace in the first inning, challenging Verlander’s reputation as the Yankees‘ nemesis. He kicked off the scoring for the Bombers by launching a mammoth three-run homer over the right-field fence. The cleanup hitter took a moment to admire his handiwork before casually flipping his bat and savoring a leisurely 29.6-second trip around the bases.

Reflecting on his previous approach, Alex Verdugo acknowledged a tendency to consistently hit the ball underneath it. He emphasized that on this particular day, his focus was on adjusting his swing to make contact more on top of the ball, aiming for lower-line drives instead.

“I would always be under it, under it, under it,” he told. “So today was just more [about] trying to be a little bit more on top of the ball and just kind of lower line drives.”

The strategy paid off, as Alex Verdugo also contributed an RBI single in the third inning.

Manager Aaron Boone commended the player’s exceptional performance and the positive reception he received from his teammates. According to him, Alex Verdugo thrives in such an environment. The Yankees skipper highlighted the lefty’s contributions as a catalyst for the team, specifically mentioning his excellence and clutch performances. He also pointed out that the player brings a certain edge to the team.

“He’s been outstanding,’’ Boone said. “The guys love him in there [and] I think he loves it. We’re seeing the kind of player he is. He’s been a spark. He’s been excellent. He’s been clutch. And he definitely brings a little edge.”

Alex Verdugo enjoys his Yankees cleanup role

On his part 6-0, Alex Verdugo expressed his comfort in his role as the cleanup hitter between two giant Yankees — 6-foot-7 Judge and 6-6 Stanton.

Yankees' Alex Verdugo shows his swag after hitting a three-run homer off Astros' Verlander at Yankee Stadium on May 7, 2024.

Alex Verdugo shared his thoughts on his position in the lineup, displaying humility at times. He acknowledged that he considers himself the smallest member of the group. Nevertheless, the Yankees’ lefty expressed his enjoyment of hitting fourth and believes he contributes effectively with his ability to make solid contact.

“Sometimes it’s a little bit humbling,’’ Alex Verdugo said. “I’m the small guy in the group. I love [hitting fourth]. I feel like I add enough contact.”

Entering the game with a 0-for-2 career record against Verlander, Alex Verdugo wasted no time in making an impact, crushing a home run to right field in his first at-bat, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

The emerging fan favorite took a moment to admire his home run before embarking on his trot around the bases.

Boone characterized the player’s overall performance as impressive, noting that he had excelled offensively and made several stellar defensive plays in left field.

Alex Verdugo showcased his defensive prowess in the top of the sixth inning, making a spectacular diving catch to rob Jeremy Pena of a sinking liner to left field.

Rookie sensation Anthony Volpe, who also contributed a home run, praised the player as the “life” of the clubhouse, and it’s evident that Verdugo is relishing his new surroundings.

“I love it,” Alex Verdugo responded eagerly. “I couldn’t be happier here.”

Yankees' Alex Verdugo hit a three-run homer off Astros' Verlander at Yankee Stadium on May 7, 2024.

The left fielder enjoyed a phenomenal night at the plate, collecting three hits and matching a career-high with four RBIs. This marked Alex Verdugo’s second four-RBI game of the season and the fifth of his career. In addition to his offensive exploits, he also made a remarkable sliding catch in left field to snag a sinking liner off the bat of Jeremy Peña, ending the sixth inning.

Manager Aaron Boone is in awe of the player’s performance, as the Yankees are witnessing the caliber of player he truly is, both on the field and at the plate. Boone lauded Alex Verdugo’s contributions as outstanding, particularly highlighting their ability to deliver in high-pressure situations.

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