Yankees turn confident with youth power backing team to the hilt against Pirates

Aaron Judge celebrates with Oswaldo Cabrera, who hit a home run in the Yankees vs. Pirates game on Sept. 16, 2023, at PNC Park.

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The Yankees‘ late-season resurgence is going so smoothly that they were confident to start with a pitcher they recently acquired from the waiver wire and still secured another victory. This confidence emanated from the strong backing the team had from their young guns, who provided sufficient offensive muscle to defeat the Pirates 6-3 despite Luke Weaver, who they claimed off waivers from the Mariners, surrendering three runs in four innings.

The Yankees demonstrated their late-season prowess once again at PNC Park on Saturday night, thanks to an offensive surge that their rising stars began in the first inning. They drew three walks in the opening frame, with two of them eventually scoring on Austin Wells‘ RBI double, marking his first extra-base hit since September 3, and a two-run single by Estevan Florial off the right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz. Oswaldo Cabrera added a solo home run in the eighth inning, while Giancarlo Stanton also contributed a home run to support the young and emerging talents.

While some may still be calculating the slim playoff possibilities for the Yankees (76-73) as they moved within six games of the final AL wild-card spot with 13 games remaining, it’s widely accepted that their postseason aspirations are fading due to the substantial deficit they face at this point.

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Yankees show remarkable late-season comeback

Nonetheless, the Yankees have shown remarkable late-season form, winning 14 of their last 19 games, including five of their last six series. Their latest series victory came against the Pirates, whose pitching staff struggled throughout the series against the Yankees’ young bats.

In relief of the starter Luke Weaver, another young arm Jhony Brito provided three flawless innings out of the bullpen, continuing his solid performance. Ian Hamilton and Clay Holmes each added a perfect inning, ensuring the Yankees retired the final 21 Pirates batters in order.

The Yankees introduced Luke Weaver, a relatively unknown 30-year-old journeyman right-handed pitcher, who had a less-than-stellar track record with a 6.56 ERA in 26 appearances split between two clubs last season and a 6.77 ERA with two different clubs earlier this year before his Yankees debut. Weaver initially struggled during his start at PNC Park, walking the Pirates’ leadoff hitter Ji Hwan Bae and allowing a two-run homer to Bryan Reynolds, momentarily giving him an infinite ERA with the Yankees. Despite some early trouble, Weaver held onto the lead and pitched a serviceable four-inning start.

The Yankees’ win marked their second consecutive victory against the Pirates in this weekend’s series and their 14th win in 19 games overall. This surge has seen them go from six games below .500 to three games above it. Rookie Jhony Brito, who has consistently delivered strong performances as both a starter and reliever, took the win after relieving Weaver. Another rookie, Ian Hamilton, made his return from the injured list and pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

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Cabrera cements the charge by the Yankees’ rookie company

Oswaldo Cabrera, who has been on a hot hitting streak over the past week after struggling for most of the season, contributed with a home run, his first since June 3. Estevan Florial, a rookie who has started in center field for six consecutive games since his call-up, provided a crucial two-run single. Oswald Peraza, another rookie playing third base, extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single in the fifth inning.

Manager Aaron Boone expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance, highlighting the players’ focus and preparation. He also mentioned that the young players have been given significant opportunities to prove themselves, and their contributions have been critical to the team’s success. Boone noted that success often comes from contributions from all members of the team, from star veterans to young talents, and that this collective effort has been a positive aspect of their recent performance.

Although the Yankees were seemingly out of contention weeks ago, they are still holding onto hope for a miraculous late-season surge to secure a wild-card berth. With 13 games remaining in their schedule, they currently trail the Mariners and Blue Jays by six games for the final wild-card spot. This margin could narrow to six games behind the Blue Jays, provided the Mariners lose their late game against the Dodgers on Saturday. If this happens, it would mark the closest the Yankees have been to a playoff spot since August 14.

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Aaron Boone conveyed that despite their current position, the team still feels motivated and determined. He emphasized their desire to win and perform at their best.

Cabrera, who went 1-for-4 in the game, has been performing well with a .364 batting average in his last six games. In the third inning, Stanton started things off with a 418-foot line-drive home run to left field, which marked his 24th home run of the season.

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