Anthony Volpe’s hustle, small-ball skills fuel Yankees’ gritty win over Rays

Anthony Volpe is showcasing a smart, small-ball skill in the Yankees' win against the Rays at Yankee Stadium on May 13, 2023.
John Allen
Sunday May 14, 2023

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From quick base stealing to small ball strategies, Anthony Volpe is setting the tone for the New York Yankees to beat formidable opponents. This was on full display on Saturday afternoon, as the Yankees overpowered the Tampa Bay Rays, winning 9-8 after coming back from behind.

Although Aaron Judge‘s two home runs may be the most talked-about aspect of the game, it was the small ball strategies employed by players such as Anthony Volpe that contributed significantly to the Yankees’ determined fight and eventual victory.

Anthony Volpe set the tone for the Yankees

In the sixth inning of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays, with the score at 6-4 in favor of the opponents, Anthony Volpe made a crucial contribution by starting off with a bunt single. As a rookie shortstop, Anthony Volpe has struggled to perform consistently well, with a current batting average of just .210. However, he has managed to get on base in 10 of his last 13 starts, including the game on Saturday, thanks to his well-placed bunt.

As the Yankees were having difficulty putting hits together, Anthony Volpe utilized his quickness to steal second base, marking his 12th stolen base of the season. Despite two flyouts from the batters, Anthony Volpe managed to steal third, setting a new Yankees record for successful stolen base attempts at the start of a career, with 13 stolen bases. He then scored on a wild pitch by Ryan Thompson, which helped narrow the gap in the score to 6-5 at Yankee Stadium.

The presence of Anthony Volpe on the base paths and his subsequent run excited not only the 44,714 fans in the stadium but also his teammates in the dugout. Aaron Boone said after the game that an energetic play like that tends to be more of an igniter, as it can be a really good baserunning play or something similar.

“That’s an energy play,” Boone said. “You get a really good baserunning play or something like that, that tends to, on some level, be a little more of an igniter.”

After two outs, Gleyber Torres received a walk, and then Judge hit his second home run of the game, which resulted in the Yankees taking the lead with a score of 7-6.

Aaron Judge acknowledges Anthony Volpe’s play

Judge later commented that the team’s versatility was crucial, especially given some of the players being injured. He mentioned the importance of using small ball tactics and commended Anthony Volpe for his bunt single. Judge emphasized the need to do the little things when the offense isn’t working and noted that the team demonstrated that during the game.

“Especially with this team being a little banged up, we got some guys that are a little more versatile,” Judge said afterward. “We got to use that to our advantage, especially seeing Volpe out there, lay one down… You got to do little things especially if the offense isn’t clicking at the right time, you got to do something a little different and we showed up today.”

After Judge hit his second homer, Rizzo, who is known as a left-handed pull hitter, surprised the defense by dropping a bunt down the third-base line to reach base. This kept the momentum going for the Yankees. Later on, Cabrera hit a single with the bases loaded that drove in two runs, securing the win for the team.

Rizzo expressed his excitement over Anthony Volpe’s leadoff bunt and discussed the team’s strategy in their meetings, saying, “We talked about having that in our bag of tricks. If we have that, why not use it?”

The first baseman was asked if he was influenced by the shortstop to have his own bunt. He smiled and replied that he was definitely inspired by Anthony Volpe. He explained that he felt like the momentum of the game required it, despite it being two outs and going against the norm. He also noted that everyone in the dugout, the fans, and the entire atmosphere were getting hyped up.

Boone said that such plays “really get guys excited” and he believed that Rizzo was “feeding off that.” He also noted the importance of having such plays in their arsenal, as it forces opposing teams to respect their abilities and opens up the field for Volpe.

Even though Anthony Volpe has had difficulties hitting the ball this season, he has coped well with the expectations of being the Yankees’ top prospect and possibly the next Derek Jeter. Although his statistics may not be impressive, his consistent defensive play, composure under pressure, and enthusiastic attitude have motivated the Yankees offense, which is now close to securing a series win against the formidable Tampa Bay Rays.

While Judge and Rizzo are known for hitting home runs, it is Anthony Volpe’s skillful small-ball play that really ignites the Yankees’ offense. The team’s victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday serves as a great illustration of this.

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