Harrison Bader stands out for his instant impact with glove, bat, and energy

Harrison Bader of the New York Yankees is hitting against the Rays at Tropicana Field on May 6, 2023.
John Allen
Sunday May 7, 2023

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Against the Rays at Tropicana Field, the Yankees had plans to start Harrison Bader in two out of three games considering his recent comeback from the injured list. However, the outfielder did not want to relax after missing the first month of the season. On Saturday morning, Harrison Bader got up and immediately began preparing for the game.

When the Yankees needed him, Harrison Bader came off the bench and guided them to a much-needed win. Even though the outfielder was only playing in his fourth game since coming off the hurt list, he continued to make an effect. He had two hits, including a two-run single that helped the Yankees beat the Rays 3-2.

“I don’t think there’s ever really a scheduled day off when you get to the yard,” Bader said. “You might not be in the starting lineup, but at some point, I anticipated getting a chance to go out there. You still have to prepare as though you are starting; keep it short and do some good for the team.”

Bader saved the day for the Yankees

Despite not being in the Yankees’ starting lineup on Saturday, Harrison Bader’s entry into the game provided a crucial boost for his team and prevented their situation from becoming dire.

Harrison Bader, who came off the bench in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter, knocked in two runs with a bloop single in the eighth inning, lifting the Yankees to a 3-2 victory against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

For the second day in a row, the Yankees were missing some key players, but Harrison Bader provided a much-needed boost to the team. Despite being slated for a day off on Saturday as part of his recovery from a strained oblique that kept him out of the game for a month, he still managed to make an impact.

His three-run homer against the Rays on Friday helped the team make a comeback though they ultimately lost. But his performance showcased how the Yankees put up a spirited fight.

On Saturday, again Harrison Bader gave the Yankees the lead with a hit. Ian Hamilton sealed the win in the ninth when he achieved the first save of his career.

“We stuck with it, stayed confident, and found some ways to sneak in there to get rolling,” Harrison Bader said. “It’s just a really good team win to bounce back off [Friday] night. That’s what this team’s made of.”

The Yankees (18-16) reduced the gap between them and the first-place Rays (27-7) to single digits in the AL East, and now they are trailing by nine games. They have a chance to clinch the series on Sunday, with Gerrit Cole set to pitch.

After the game, the atmosphere in the Yankees’ clubhouse was upbeat and energetic. The victory, though, also provided some much-needed relief at a trying period.

Harrison Bader stood out

In the eighth inning, Harrison Bader hit a short pop-up to right field off Kelly that traveled just 179 feet, but it was enough to bring home Torres and LeMahieu and give the Yankees their first lead of the series. They managed to hold onto that lead with a scoreless eighth inning by Holmes, and Ian Hamilton worked around a double to get his first save in the Major Leagues in the ninth.

“You know how tough it is to play here and against that team, with how well they’re playing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I know we’re in a tough spot right now and beat up, but I know those guys are competing. That’s what I want us to keep reiterating with them. It ain’t easy right now, and that’s OK, but we’re competing for our butts off.”

The return of Harrison Bader has been helpful. Even though the Yankees are still messed up due to injuries, he has made an instant impact with his glove, bat, and energy.

“I think there is a joy that he plays the game with that I do feel like is a little bit infectious,” Boone said.

Rizzo and co. set the stage

The outfielder referred to both of his shallow right-field bloop singles as “a little wedge shot,” which was appropriate since it started as a day off for him. The first hit was not fruitful since the Yankees were down by two and failed to take advantage of having runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh inning. With one out in the eighth, the Rays bullpen gave them another shot after Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres both singles.

The Yankees were down 2-1 until the following hitter, DJ LeMahieu, smashed a double to right field off of reliever Kevin Kelly. They had started the day 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, so this was their first hit of the day.

Then, Harrison Bader repeated what he did in the seventh inning against Jalen Beeks and raced on Kelly’s first pitch, hitting a single to practically the exact same area as before, plating two runs, and giving his club a 3-2 lead.

“I was kidding him, I said, ‘You couldn’t lob them out there any better than that today,’” Boone said. “A day off and you lob a couple out there like that and a couple of RBIs. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He loves to play the game, he loves to compete.”

In the first inning, right-hander Drew Rasmussen helped put the Rays up 2-0 against Domingo German. After Tampa Bay scored first, they seemed certain to win 23-0. The Yankees came from behind for the second straight game and this time they succeeded against the Rays.

Harrison Bader said that they were fighting and finding their stride, which was normal for the early part of the season. He also mentioned that if this was the worst baseball they played all year, they were in a good spot. Bader added that they were playing with confidence and a win like this would create momentum for them going into Sunday.

“We’re fighting and we’re just finding our stride, which is completely normal,” Bader said. “It’s the early part of the season and if this is the worst baseball we’ll play all year, I think we’re in a really good spot. We’re playing confidently and wins like this definitely create some momentum for us going into [Sunday].

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