Hal calls out Yankees veterans and they pay heed to him

LeMahieu is seen with his Yankees teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo.
Sara Molnick
Wednesday June 14, 2023

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Amidst Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner’s call for slumping stars like Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu to improve their hitting, the duo stepped up on the plate with a strong response. Both hit home runs as the leading figures in the Yankees’ offensive onslaught against the Mets in the Subway Series opener on Tuesday.

Thanks to their heroics, the Yankees overcome Luis Severino’s rough start to beat the Mets 7-6 in a thrilling encounter at Citi Field.

In the first inning, Stanton showcased his power by hitting a 408-foot home run off a Max Scherzer slider, as estimated by Statcast. This marked his 24th career home run at Citi Field, the highest number achieved by any visiting player at the stadium. Following Stanton’s lead, LeMahieu joined the home run parade in the fourth inning with a two-run shot, also off a slider, which played a crucial role in fueling the Yankees’ comeback. Anthony Volpe’s double set the stage for Jake Bauers, who delivered a two-run single that ultimately forced the Mets’ starter out of the game.

Hal clearly told Yankees veterans to step up

Hal Steinbrenner at a Yankees' training session.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is displaying traits reminiscent of his father but in a positive manner. He has started to openly discuss his team but with a measured approach. When addressing players, he does so with a gentle touch, avoiding harsh criticism.

After holding the position for over ten years, it is refreshing to witness the Yankees owner breaking out of his reserved demeanor.

Hal Steinbrenner, following his customary practice of occasional press conferences, held a meeting with the Yankees’ media representatives in Midtown on Tuesday. Just hours before the Subway Series commenced, he candidly expressed his thoughts on the team’s performance through 67 somewhat underwhelming games, featuring 38 wins, 29 losses, and a position in third place. Although Steinbrenner made some direct comments, he refrained from resorting to insults and intentionally avoided mentioning specific individuals, unless prompted to do so.

Steinbrenner acknowledged the need for improvement in the Yankees’ hitting performance during his statement prior to the Yankees’ 7-6 victory in the opening game of the series. He emphasized that the pitchers have been carrying a significant burden and expressed his expectation for several veterans to rise to the occasion, particularly in the absence of Aaron Judge. Steinbrenner encouraged the players, especially the mentioned Yankees veterans, to elevate their game and contribute more positively to the team’s overall performance.

Steinbrenner’s communication style resembles his father’s direct and concise approach, marked by a strong staccato delivery. However, the Yankees owner adopts a more restrained tone, choosing to soften his words and lean towards a positive outlook. Steinbrenner acknowledged the struggles of LeMahieu, Rizzo, and Stanton, expressing optimism that their current slump is temporary and they will soon regain their form.

Hal set the standard for Yankees’ veterans

The New York Yankees’ performance so far has been surprisingly mediocre. They ranked 16th in terms of runs scored, 18th in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS, and 21st in batting average before the recent games. Furthermore, their offensive struggles have been exacerbated by the absence of Judge, making their overall performance even worse.

Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees

Since Judge sustained a toe injury during a collision with the concrete base of the wall at Dodger Stadium, the Yankees’ offensive output has declined significantly, averaging fewer than three runs per game. During this period, key players such as LeMahieu, Stanton, Rizzo, Donaldson, and Torres struggled at the plate, collectively going 11-for-101 with a batting average of .109 and an OPS of .448 before Tuesday’s game. However, in the recent matchup against the Mets, this group managed to improve slightly, going 4-for-17 with a batting average of .235 and contributing four RBIs, including a pinch-hit sacrifice fly RBI by Donaldson.

Steinbrenner directed his attention toward LeMahieu, Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo, likely due to their impressive track records and the elevated expectations placed upon them. LeMahieu, a two-time batting champion, showcased his prowess with a two-run homer in the Yankees’ victory. Stanton, a former MVP, also hit a home run, while Rizzo, a celebrated member of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, has continued to excel since joining the Yankees. Steinbrenner’s emphasis on this trio suggests his desire for them to perform at their best given their esteemed reputations.

Steinbrenner acknowledged the streaky nature of Giancarlo Stanton’s performance, recognizing that when he’s in top form, he has the ability to single-handedly propel a team. Regarding Anthony Rizzo, Steinbrenner mentioned that he had experienced a neck injury, but emphasized that there have been no ongoing concerns regarding his neck health. Steinbrenner also mentioned that DJ LeMahieu is currently in good health and expressed his uncertainty about LeMahieu’s recent struggles, particularly his increased strikeout rate, which is uncharacteristic of him. Steinbrenner expressed his concern regarding LeMahieu’s performance and the absence of any foot or toe-related issues reported to the team.

Steinbrenner expressed concern over LeMahieu’s increased strikeout rate this season, acknowledging that it is a worrisome trend. With a strikeout rate of 26.3%, it is the highest of LeMahieu’s career. He emphasized that the struggles of LeMahieu and the other veterans on the team are not attributed to any health issues. Steinbrenner confirmed that LeMahieu has fully recovered from the foot injury that affected him towards the end of the previous season. Additionally, he stated that Rizzo has not encountered any further problems with the neck injury that caused him to miss a few games last month, which coincided with a challenging stretch where he only managed one hit in 30 at-bats.

LeMahieu of the Yankees at a practice session.

Veterans sparkle at Citi

Giancarlo Stanton continued his dominance over the Mets by hitting a home run in the first inning to give the Yankees an early lead. Stanton’s powerful swing sent the ball sailing over the left field fence, showcasing his hitting prowess. Prior to this game, Stanton had struggled, recording only three hits in his previous 21 at-bats since returning from the injured list. However, his performance against the Mets proved his ability to excel against them. The home run marked Stanton’s 38th career home run against the Mets, with 24 of them occurring in the 58 games he has played at Citi Field. It is worth noting that Stanton had a successful tenure in the NL East with the Miami Marlins before being traded to the Yankees following the 2017 season.

Stanton wasted no time in the first inning as he launched a home run, granting the Yankees an early 1-0 advantage. However, the Mets swiftly responded when Brandon Nimmo, their leadoff batter, connected with Severino’s second pitch of the game and smacked a deep home run, equalizing the score. Surprisingly, this opening homer seemed to unleash a flurry of offensive activity. The Yankees, fueled by the momentum, erupted for five runs in the fourth inning, staging an impressive comeback to regain control of the game. Ultimately, they managed to secure a hard-fought 7-6 victory in the first installment of the Subway Series at Citi Field, setting the stage for the upcoming games between the two teams.

The turning point came when Anthony Rizzo put an end to his extended hitless drought, which had reached 24 consecutive at-bats, by delivering a well-placed single in the opposite direction. Building on this breakthrough, DJ LeMahieu stepped up to the plate in the following at-bat during the fourth inning. With Anthony Rizzo already on base, LeMahieu unleashed a powerful swing, sending the ball sailing over the outfield fence for a two-run home run. This impressive display of offensive prowess narrowed the Yankees’ deficit to 5-3, injecting a renewed sense of hope and energy into the game.

DJ LeMahieu unleashed a mighty swing, sending Max Scherzer’s hanging slider soaring 396 feet toward the left-field area. This powerful hit marked LeMahieu’s first home run since May 27, a much-needed boost for him as he had been struggling with a batting average of 6-for-41 (.146) leading up to the game. The momentum continued as Volpe followed with an RBI double, and Jake Bauers delivered a clutch two-run single to right field. This offensive onslaught proved too much for Scherzer to handle, ultimately leading to his removal from the game, and the Yankees surged ahead, taking a 6-5 lead.

Anthony Volpe exhibited a revamped batting stance with a closed position and displayed his improved skills by hitting two doubles. Meanwhile, in the sixth inning, Josh Donaldson made a significant impact coming off the bench, delivering a sacrifice fly that proved to be the decisive play, propelling the Yankees ahead and securing their lead for the remainder of the game.

Josh Donaldson, with a batting average of .143, made a key contribution as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning by launching a sacrifice fly that ultimately secured the lead for the Yankees, and they held onto it until the end of the game.

Boone expressed his satisfaction with the collective efforts of the team, emphasizing the significance of small contributions from every player in the lineup. He expressed his delight in seeing everyone play a part in the team’s success.

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