Anthony Rizzo’s homers make Yankees win special on his bobblehead night

Anthony Rizzo is after hitting his second home run for the Yankees in 6-5 win over the Rays at Yankee Stadium on May 12, 2023.

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Friday’s game was crucial for the Yankees and they managed to secure a significant win thanks to Anthony Rizzo‘s outstanding performance. The game was full of twists and turns and was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 46,130 at Yankee Stadium, coinciding with Anthony Rizzo’s bobblehead night. The first baseman hit two home runs in the game, marking the 22nd time in his career that he has accomplished this feat.

The Yankees, who are currently in last place, prevented a second consecutive loss and avoided falling 10 games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays with their recent win. After hitting the game-winning home run, Anthony Rizzo was acknowledged by the audience in Yankee Stadium with a curtain call on a special night, where fans received a Mandalorian bobblehead and went home with the joy of a victory

The game between two AL East rivals was energized by a loud and enthusiastic fan presence, despite the season being only less than two months old. Anthony Rizzo hit his second home run of the game in the eighth inning, a towering two-run shot, which secured the team’s thrilling 6-5 victory over the Rays, who were leading the division at the time.

Anthony Rizzo observed the slim margin for error between the two teams after they played four one-run games out of five in the past week-plus.

“That’s been the narrative the early part of the season,’’ said Anthony Rizzo, who knew how important was the win for the Yankees. “As the season goes on, none of these teams in this division will back down.”

A big victory for Yankees

The atmosphere following Friday’s impressive win was completely different from Thursday’s disappointing loss. After conceding a run in the first inning and trailing 2-1 in the second, the Yankees took a 4-2 lead but then saw it disappear when Michael King, who is known for his consistency, gave up a three-run homer to Josh Lowe in the eighth inning, resulting in a 5-4 deficit for the Yankees.

The Yankees found themselves behind for most of the game but managed to come back and win thanks to Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer in the eighth inning. This was Anthony Rizzo’s second homer of the game, and it gave the Yankees the lead for good. Although the team has struggled with the offense this season and suffered a setback with the opposing team’s home run, the players stayed focused and were able to turn things around.

“Everyone is super, super confident with everyone in the lineup,” Anthony Volpe said. “That’s what, for me, as a younger player to see — no one coming close to panicking or pressing or trying to do too much — is really cool.”

This victory allowed the Yankees, who are currently in last place, to reduce the gap with the first-place Rays in the AL East to eight games.

“Look,” manager Aaron Boone said, “it hasn’t been easy for us. It hasn’t been perfect. We’ve been beaten up at different times. But this group is really competing well. That rang true tonight. It was a tough one and you fall behind, you kind of fall back to tie it up and take the lead, and then lose the lead, and then keep on playing. Just a gutsy win by a lot of guys stepping up there when it’s not easy.”

Anthony Rizzo commented that throughout the season, the Yankees have shown resilience in overcoming difficult situations.

Anthony Rizzo mentioned that the team has been able to quickly move on from poor performances or moments where they did not perform at their best, which he believes is a positive indication.

Anthony Rizzo turns red hot

In the first quarter of the season, Anthony Rizzo has been the Yankees’ most valuable player. Before the game, there was a procession of Star Wars characters on the field, accompanied by the song “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” by Meco. Anthony Rizzo was “adorned in a W-wing pilot outfit and Rays players were pictured as Stormtroopers.”

Anthony Rizzo delivered a crucial hit for the Yankees in the eighth inning by hitting a high, impressive home run off Jason Adam of Tampa, giving the Yankees a 6-5 advantage. Anthony Rizzo anticipated a fastball. When Adam pitched it right down the middle, Anthony Rizzo blasted it over the right-center-field wall, prompting an excited reaction from the crowd. He began the game by hitting a solo home run in the first inning to even the score.

“He’s been rock solid,” Boone said. “He’s been a great presence in the middle of our order and really consistent. Like he usually always does, big hits come with him.”

Despite injuries and a slow start on offense, the Yankees have relied heavily on Anthony Rizzo as he has played in all but two games this season and consistently contributed. He boasts an impressive stat line with a batting average of .301, an on-base percentage of .387, and a slugging percentage of .500, in addition to hitting eight home runs and driving in 20 runs. Moreover, Anthony Rizzo has shown great defensive skills at first base, with his outs above average ranking in the 92nd percentile.

During batting practice before the game, there was a touching moment when a family met with Anthony Rizzo. A child, who had a Rizzo on his t-shirt, took a photo with him and got his baseball signed by the Yankees’ first baseman, who is the child’s favorite player. Aaron Judge also came by and gave the child his batting gloves. This was considered one of the most heartwarming moments of the season.

At the stadium, they were also celebrating Anthony Rizzo’s “Mandalorian” bobblehead night. He considered this game, in which he performed exceptionally well, to be his best performance during a team giveaway that featured him. When asked if he was a fan of “Star Wars,” Anthony Rizzo simply smiled and gave a short answer.

“I am now.”

Asked if their unfamiliar spot in the standings was a concern, Anthony Rizzo said: “If it was September, yes, but not right now. This team, I feel, is built for the long haul.”

Anthony Rizzo plays a crucial role in the Yankees’ offense, particularly with many other players struggling to perform well.

The second sold-out game of the year at the Stadium can be attributed to the giveaway of a Star Wars-themed bobblehead featuring Anthony Rizzo.

The bay bomber’s Tampa raid

Starting on April 16, Anthony Volpe had been the leadoff batter in every Yankees game until the manager, Boone, moved him to the seventh spot in the lineup during Friday’s game. This decision was made because Volpe had been in a batting slump, having only hit 9 out of 57 attempts since the beginning of the Rangers series. During this slump, he had struck out 15 times and only walked twice.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Yankees gained the advantage with a single that brought in a run, hit by Anthony Volpe who was moved down to the seventh spot in the batting order. Previously, Volpe had been placed at the top of the lineup but had struggled, going 9-for-57 with 15 strikeouts and two walks. Additionally, in the fifth inning, Volpe hit a home run to tie the game.

“With getting some more guys back in the mix, it’s something I considered,” Boone said of why he dropped Volpe in the order. “And (he) could end up back (leading off). Or, as we get more guys back, (he) could end up at the bottom again. You know how I like him there. But just something I wanted to do.”

Volpe, a rookie, has been struggling at the plate lately, with a rise in his swing percentage and a significant drop in his walk rate, which can indicate he’s pressing too much. However, he’s still been hitting the ball hard despite the slump, and prior to Friday’s game, he led the Yankees in hard hit percentage, except for Judge and Bauers, who have only played a few games since the Rangers series.

Volpe kept up his strong hitting performance in Friday’s game, hitting his fifth home run. It exited at 102.6 mph showcasing how hard he was on the sinker from Josh Fleming. The ball flew over the right-field wall. Additionally, he hit a hard ball for an RBI single in the fifth inning, which helped to tie the game at 2.

After Thursday’s game, Volpe knew he wouldn’t be leading off, but he didn’t let it affect his approach negatively. He remained focused on delivering and succeeded in doing so.

“I’m just happy to play and be in there,” Volpe said. “Regardless of where I’m at, I just want to put together good ABs and help the team.”

Although it was mid-May, the atmosphere at the game was similar to that of a high-stakes match in mid-September. The stadium was full marking the Yankees’ second sellout of the season. As a young player with only 40 major-league games under his belt, Volpe felt the intensity of the game was unlike anything he had experienced before.

Rizzo called the night “electric”

“It’s one of those warm nights,” Boone said, “starting to look like summer. From jump street, the crowd was rocking and into it. It did have that little extra special: Friday night, great opponent, a good regular-season night here at the stadium. That was fun to be a part of and witness, and I’m sure it helped play a role in helping to push us over the top.”

Cole described the rivalry between the Yankees and the Rays as highly competitive.

He commented that the AL East has been a stacked division throughout his career, particularly in the last five or six years. He acknowledged the strong capabilities of the opposing ballclub, noting that they play tough against everyone. He further emphasized the need to face good clubs to reach their goals, recognizing that the team in their division is playing exceptional baseball.

Rizzo remarked that the atmosphere was very electric that night and that the fans seemed particularly enthusiastic. He also commented on the competitiveness of the division, stating that it was a tough fight every night and that he expected all the teams in the division to continue to put up a fight throughout the season.

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