Rizzo fires Yankees offense to big first-inning lead, down Athletics 4-3

Anthony Rizzo hits a home run in the Yankees vs. A's game at Yankee Stadium on April 23, 2024.

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Anthony Rizzo broke out of the slump in style on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium against the Oakland Athletics. His two-run homer in the first inning, a 385-foot shot to right field off A’s ace Paul Blackburn’s 3-2 fastball, ignited a four-run rally that gave the Yankees a commanding 4-1 lead. The early blast by Anthony Rizzo proved crucial for the Yankees to fend off their opponents over the next eight innings and clinched a crucial 4-3 victory.

This performance marked a welcome return to form for Anthony Rizzo, who battled post-concussion syndrome last season. The aftereffects significantly hampered his power hitting, resulting in just one home run over his final 53 games after a strong start with 11 homers in his first 46 appearances.

Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman delivered a solid outing, lasting into the sixth inning before exiting with one out and the tying run on base in a tense 4-3 contest.

The game unfolded on a chilly and windy night at Yankee Stadium, with temperatures dipping from a starting point of 53 degrees to the high 40s by the middle innings, accompanied by an 18-mph wind. Despite the challenging weather conditions, the victory led by Anthony Rizzo instilled a sense of warmth in both fans and players.

With this win, the Yankees climbed back to a share of first place in the AL East, tying the Baltimore Orioles. This resurgence came after a brief dip to second place earlier in the week, following a series-opening loss to Oakland and a simultaneous Orioles victory over the Angels in Anaheim.

Anthony Rizzo’s early thunder powers Yankees past A’s

Tuesday’s game marked a significant shift for the Yankees, who had only scored six runs in the first inning all season. This time, they erupted for four early runs, defying their usual slow starts.

Anthony Rizzo, who had been mired in a recent slump (4-for-31), ended his offensive funk at the perfect time. He launched his first home run since April 6, a two-run blast that extended the Yankees’ lead to 4-1. This much-needed offensive spark from Anthony Rizzo provided a significant boost to the team.

Powerhouse hitter Giancarlo Stanton underscored the importance of seizing opportunities to build momentum through these big innings. He acknowledged that while ideally, multiple explosive innings would be preferable, sometimes a single impactful rally can be the difference between winning and losing. Stanton emphasized the significance of the first inning, highlighting his own contribution with a clutch two-run double.

The Yankees’ offensive onslaught in the first inning began with a base hit by Juan Soto, followed by Aaron Judge’s double off A’s starter Paul Blackburn. Stanton then stepped up and drove both runners home with a booming double, putting the Yankees ahead 2-1.

After Anthony Rizzo’s crucial homer, Athletics starter Paul Blackburn shut down the Yankees’ offense. He retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced, with only an Anthony Volpe infield single in the second inning interrupting his dominance. The Yankees’ bats remained quiet until Austin Wells drew a leadoff walk in the eighth inning.

Despite Aaron Judge’s recent slump, signs of improvement were evident. He went 1-for-3 with a ground-rule double to left, a hit-by pitch, and two hard-hit flyouts. Yankees manager Aaron Boone expressed optimism about Judge, believing positive results are on the horizon. Judge also showcased his defensive skills with a leaping catch in left-center field to secure the final out of the eighth inning.

Anthony Rizzo reflects on power surge fuelling Yankees win

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AP

New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo has faced his share of challenges at the plate, but his focus remains on quality at-bats and battling through adversity. He acknowledges baseball’s inherent ups and downs, where even the best hitters experience periods of brilliance and struggle.

Last season, Anthony Rizzo’s offensive production was hampered by post-concussion syndrome. He managed just one home run in his final 53 games before an August injury sidelined him entirely. However, this season’s early success, with two home runs in his first 24 games, demonstrates his determination to overcome past hurdles.

Spring training was a crucial time for Anthony Rizzo to rediscover his rhythm and leave last year’s struggles behind. While he typically aims for at least two home runs per month, he understands the sporadic nature of hitting long balls, which often come in bunches.

Historically, Anthony Rizzo’s performance in April has been inconsistent, with the exception of his first two years with the Yankees. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining confidence and staying resilient, acknowledging the long season ahead.

Stroman fumbles early but Yankees bullpen seals victory

Although their offensive firepower sputtered after the first inning against the Athletics, the pitching performances of Marcus Stroman and the bullpen ensured victory. Their efforts shut down the Athletics, who currently sport a mediocre 9-15 record.

While Marcus Stroman might not have had his sharpest outing against the Yankees, he battled through 5⅓ innings, surrendering three runs. Despite falling short of his usual dominance, the right-hander managed a season-high nine strikeouts, with a whopping seven coming courtesy of his potent slider. However, a misplayed blooper by right fielder Juan Soto in the first inning led to an early run for the Yankees, followed by a pair of solo home runs.

Once Stroman exited the game, the Yankees’ bullpen stepped up in a big way, tossing 3⅔ scoreless innings to preserve the narrow lead. Ron Marinaccio, Caleb Ferguson, and Dennis Santana each contributed a scoreless inning, with Clay Holmes taking the mound in the ninth to secure his ninth save of the season.

Marinaccio and Ferguson each struck out three batters to silence the offensive threats. Santana came on in relief in the eighth with two outs and managed to shut down the inning. Holmes continued his impressive run as closer, tossing a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts. This dominant performance maintained his perfect 0.00 ERA and extended his scoreless streak to an impressive 12 innings this season. Holmes’ reliability as the Yankees’ closer is undeniable.

Giancarlo Stanton celebrates after hitting a double in the Yankees vs. A's game at Yankee Stadium on April 23, 2024.
NYY

A winning strategy by the Yankees?

The New York Yankees have discovered a winning formula – striking early and often. Their recent success hinges on capitalizing during key moments in games, with a knack for explosive offensive bursts.

Tuesday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics perfectly exemplified this trend. The Yankees wasted no time, erupting for four runs in the opening inning. While they weren’t able to sustain that offensive pace throughout the chilly Bronx evening, their early lead held strong, securing a narrow 4-3 victory.

This approach extends beyond a single game. Last Wednesday, a four-run ninth inning propelled them past the Toronto Blue Jays with a 6-4 win. Similarly, a five-run explosion in the seventh inning last Friday secured a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The following Sunday, another four-run outburst, this time in the fifth inning, sealed a 5-4 win, again against the Rays.

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