Yankees execute the art of small ball perfectly against Dodgers

Isiah Kiner-Falefa plays a bunt, which helped the Yankees score a run against the Dodgers on June 5, 2023.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Table of Contents

A two-run homer by Anthony Volpe in the ninth inning dealt a significant blow to the Dodgers. But the Yankees heavily relied on strategic small-ball plays to secure a 4-1 victory in Sunday’s series-deciding game.

During the offseason and initial stages of the 2023 baseball season, there was widespread discussion about the Yankees’ overreliance on home runs. Critics then argued that they could not play small ball and manufacture runs. Many of them went on to predict that their success would diminish once the home run streak ended.

Despite the absence of key power hitters due to injuries, the Yankees’ young core, spearheaded by Anthony Volpe, has impressively demonstrated their ability to play small ball with great proficiency. From quick base stealing to small ball strategies, they are setting the tone for the New York Yankees to beat formidable opponents.

The early-season criticism leveled against the Yankees has been proven unfounded, as they have shown themselves capable of executing the necessary small-ball tactics to generate runs, even though they maintain their identity as a power-hitting team. They earlier did it against the Tampa Bay Rays winning 9-8 after coming back from behind and again showed it on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

Yankees small-ball play against Dodgers

After relying solely on home runs to score all 10 of their runs in the first two games against the Dodgers (35-25), the Yankees shifted their approach and employed small-ball strategies to manufacture their first two runs on Sunday.

The Yankees were able to score their first run of the game through a combination of strategic bunting and a mistake by Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol. Isiah Kiner-Falefa executed a well-placed bunt, and Graterol made an off-balance throw to an uncovered first base, resulting in a scoring opportunity. In the seventh inning, another successful bunt by Kiner-Falefa, coupled with a throwing error, advanced the runners to second and third base. Finally, a broken-bat grounder off the bat of Kyle Higashioka, with a speed of 68.9 mph, allowed Jake Bauers to score from third and give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

In crucial situations during the seventh and eighth innings, the Yankees implemented the contact play strategy with a runner on third base and one out. By doing so, they aimed to put the ball in play and force the defense to make a play. Despite the groundouts being weak enough, they were effective enough to bring in both runs. However, the decision to attempt the contact play in the seventh inning was not advisable, as it resulted in runners advancing to second and third with only one out. Fortunately, Jake Bauers was able to score from third base on a Kyle Higashioka broken-bat groundout.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, J.D. Martinez countered with a solo home run against Domingo German. However, the Yankees didn’t let that deter them, as they quickly retaliated in the eighth inning. Giancarlo Stanton then hit a double after drawing a walk from Anthony Rizzo. Then, Oswaldo Cabrera, who had recently been sent down to the minors and brought back up, contributed to the victory by driving in the game-winning run with a softly-hit groundball towards the first base side of the pitcher’s mound.

In the eighth inning, following a powerful double hit by Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees had runners positioned on second and third base. It was then that Oswaldo Cabrera hit a slow chopper toward second base, clocked at a speed of 60.2 mph. The timely hit allowed Anthony Rizzo to cross home plate from third, reclaiming the lead for the Yankees with a score of 2-1.

Boone recognized the significance of not hitting the ball well in certain situations, emphasizing the value of making the fielders move. He acknowledged the efforts of the base runners and commended Oswaldo and Higgy for their ability to control the ball’s contact and not hit it too hard.

“Not-hit-well helps, and when the fielder’s gotta move a little, that’s what you’re selling out for,” Boone said. “Good job by the base runners there and good job of not hitting it too hard by Oswaldo and Higgy.”

Volpe cemented the victory

Anthony Volpe hit a two-run homer against the Dodgers on June 5, 2023, to ensure victory for the Yankees in LA.

In the game’s final inning, Anthony Volpe provided the Yankees with some much-needed breathing room by launching his ninth home run of the season. Despite struggling at the plate in his previous 123 plate appearances with a.164/.203/.353 slash line, Volpe managed to collect two hits in the game.

Anthony Volpe expressed that his multi-hit game had a significant impact on his confidence. He mentioned that it was a noteworthy achievement to take the series against a strong team and play exceptionally well.

The rookie shortstop also said that facing a formidable opponent made their series victory and performance even more significant. He expressed his satisfaction with the team’s ability to win the series and praised their overall gameplay.

The Yankees (36-25) wrapped up their West Coast trip with a satisfying 4-2 record, showcasing their ability to play high-quality baseball despite facing injuries. The team’s recent concern has been Aaron Judge’s sore right big toe.

Boone said he was satisfied with the team’s performance, stating that the players executed many aspects of the game effectively. He described it as a strong collective effort and highlighted the presence of winning elements throughout the game.

German, bullpen provided the muscle

Domingo German led the Yankees to victory over Dodgers in LA on June 5, 2023.

In his second start since returning from a suspension related to the use of prohibited substances, Domingo German delivered an impressive performance against the Dodgers. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing only four hits, one earned run, and one walk while recording six strikeouts. J.D. Martinez’s home run was the sole run German conceded, demonstrating his effectiveness in flustering the Dodgers with a combination of well-executed curveballs, changeups, and precise command.

According to the Yankees manager, Domingo German showcased his exceptional command during the game. Boone mentioned that at one point, he noticed German had thrown three balls and 28 strikes, indicating his ability to consistently locate pitches within the strike zone. German’s curveball and changeup were particularly impressive, contributing to his effectiveness on the mound.

Boone also highlighted the importance of maintaining unpredictability against a strong Dodgers lineup, noting German’s ability to mix up his pitches and vary his approach. Boone emphasized that German’s exceptional command was crucial in facing a formidable opponent like the Dodgers.

In addition, German mentioned that his main focus during the game was to throw a strike as the first pitch, and then adjust his approach as necessary by expanding the strike zone. His earned run average (ERA) for this season stands at 3.69 after completing 11 starts.

After Domingo German’s impressive performance, Clay Holmes stepped in and pitched a scoreless inning in relief, and Wandy Peralta finished off the remaining outs of the game.

This victory marked the end of a successful west coast trip, with the Yankees finishing with a commendable 4-2 record in their games in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Boone remarked that traveling to the west coast presented challenges for the team. He recognized the arduous task they faced in Seattle, particularly their strong pitching staff, and also acknowledged their formidable opponents in the Dodgers.

Following the conclusion of the road trip, the Yankees are scheduled for a day off on Monday. This break in the schedule will provide an opportunity for updates on the condition of Aaron Judge (toe) and Nestor Cortes (shoulder), among other players. Both individuals are set to undergo additional tests and evaluations upon returning to New York, which should provide further information on their respective injuries.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Pinstripes Nation!

Your Daily Dose of Yankees Magic Delivered to Your Inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Don't Miss Any of the Latest Yankees News, Rumors, and Exclusive Offers!