Anthony Volpe’s stellar defense spurs Yankees to prevail over Royals

Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza seen together following their remarkable defensive display vs. the Royals at Yankee Stadium on July 21, 2023.
John Allen
Saturday July 22, 2023

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Anthony Volpe’s defensive excellence powered by his athleticism played a key role in securing the Yankees’ 5-4 victory against the Royals on Friday night in The Bronx. His astuteness in defending and throwing the ball robbed the Royals of a chance to rally and ended the game in favor of the Yankees.

Ever since the Yankees selected Anthony Volpe in the first round of the 2019 draft straight from high school, they have been equally amazed by his baseball intellect, along with his physical talents. His perfect blend of robust and intelligent defensive prowess was evident during the closing play against the Royals at Yankee Stadium.

Anthony Volpe’s ninth-inning defense seals Yankees’ victory

In a crucial moment with the tying run on second base and two outs in the top of the ninth, Anthony Volpe skillfully moved to his right to cleanly field a Bobby Witt Jr. ground ball.

The seemingly imminent infield hit for the swift Witt, which could have placed runners on the corners against Clay Holmes, was instead transformed into the game-ending out. Anthony Volpe hustled and delivered a throw to third base, where DJ LeMahieu was sprinting to cover the bag.

LeMahieu skillfully Anthony handled Volpe’s throw, swiftly applying the tag to a sliding Drew Waters just in time before he reached the bag. Initially, third base umpire Jordan Baker signaled Waters as safe, but DJ LeMahieu, known for his composed demeanor, emphatically expressed his belief that he had tagged him.

At the request of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, the crew chief reviewed the play, considering it occurred after the beginning of the eighth inning, and the call was promptly overturned.

Boone praised the play, calling it a “heads-up play” and noting the importance of Anthony Volpe’s decision to throw to third with Witt’s speed. He also commended DJ LeMahieu for positioning himself well to make the tag, describing it as a “big-time play.”

Anthony Volpe himself was taken aback by the outcome of the play, as he realized he had a slim chance of getting Witt out at first base. He pointed out that Witt had successfully beaten what seemed like a routine double play in his previous at-bat. The rookie shortstop mentioned that on the throw to third, he knew he had to act swiftly, so he just reacted.

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AP Photo / Mary Altaffer

Although LeMahieu was confident that he made the tag in time, Anthony Volpe himself wasn’t entirely certain about it.

Anthony Volpe conceded that he believed Waters was safe and recognized that the umpire had a clear view of the play. He wasn’t certain about challenging the call due to a previous challenge, so he was both amazed and content when the call was reviewed and ultimately reversed in their favor.

Anthony Volpe mentioned that this type of play is practiced, although not specifically sliding and throwing, but with DJ in the right position, it became a natural reaction and one of those instinctive plays.

Volpe does the rescue act

Anthony Volpe’s play came to the rescue for the Yankees and Holmes, who faced some tough hits in the ninth inning. It was part of a series of impressive plays by the Yankees up the middle, as Oswald Peraza held his own while filling in for Gleyber Torres at second base.

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AP Photo/ Mary Altaffer

Peraza showcased his defensive skills by preventing Witt from getting a run-scoring single in the fourth inning and coming close to securing the game-ending double play with a quick grab on a liner from Maikel Garcia, barely missing out on beating Waters back to second base.

Boone noted that the defense proved to be the deciding factor in the end.

It also spared the last-place Yankees from a potentially tense finish as they returned home after a rough stretch on the West Coast, where they lost four straight and six of seven games.

Anthony Volpe emphasized that they needed to play better baseball.

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