Didi Gregorius stood in front of his locker and still insisted he is not a home run hitter, but a hitter whose emphasis is on hitting line drives.
Those line drives are going over fences and driving in runs for the New York Yankees.
Gregorius attempts to add to the best statistical month of his career Wednesday night when the Yankees continue their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium.
“Nope, not changing, I’m not a home run hitter,” he said after hitting a two-run homer and driving in three runs during an 8-3 win on Tuesday.
With six games remaining in April, Gregorius is already up to eight homers while leading the majors with 27 RBIs. He has homered in three straight games and his 27 RBIs through New York’s first 22 games are the most since Alex Rodriguez (34 RBIs) in 2007.
All eight homers were at home for Gregorius, whose left-handed swing is producing a .417 (20-for-48) average at home. He is the fourth Yankee to hit at least eight homers in any month at the current Yankee Stadium.
“I don’t know if I could describe it, it’s incredible,” Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge said.
Gregorius is achieving his lofty numbers after hitting 25 homers and 87 RBIs last season when he missed most of April with a shoulder injury sustained at the World Baseball Classic.
“He’s the anchor of our team,” Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said.
Gregorius is not the only hot Yankee as they are 7-2 in their last nine games since April 12 after beating Minnesota for the 11th time in 12 home games.
Gary Sanchez is batting .341 (14-for-41) in his last 10 games after homering twice Tuesday, while Judge is hitting .370 (10-for-27) in his last eight games.
Minnesota (8-10) has been outscored 48-18 during its current five-game losing streak, which featured three blowouts and two walk-off losses.
During this skid, the Twins are batting .217 (36-for-166) and getting outhomered 14-4. Minnesota also owns a 10.15 ERA after Jose Berrios allowed five runs in four-plus innings Tuesday.
“Sometimes it rains, sometimes you lose five in a row,” second baseman Brian Dozier said. “The beautiful thing about it is we play tomorrow.”
Dozier saw his 17-game hitting streak end by going 0-for-4 while Miguel Sano is still trying to get going. He is hitting .191 and is 1-for-17 during this skid.
The Twins will attempt to end their skid against a struggling starting pitcher in New York’s Sonny Gray, who is 1-1 with an 8.27 ERA through four starts and allowing opponents to hit .315 (23-for-73) so far.
“I’ve seen a guy that I think is close. I think the stuff is there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Tuesday’s game. “I think he’s fallen behind a little bit too much, ball one, strike one, that first pitch. Over time that’s going to bear out. It’s tough to pitch when you’re behind. It’s a lot easier when you’re ahead, especially when you have the equipment that Sonny has.”
Since joining the Yankees in a trade from the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 1, Gray is 5-8 with a 4.63 ERA in 15 starts.
As a Yankee, Gray has not completed six innings in seven of his starts, including three times this season. The most recent occasion was Friday’s 8-5 loss when he was booed off the mound after allowing five runs and five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings during a no-decision.
On Friday, he fell behind on the first pitch to 15 of 19 hitters. This season, Gray has thrown first-pitch strikes to 39 of 86 hitters so far.
Gray is 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in five career starts against Minnesota. All of those starts occurred while pitching for Oakland, and he allowed three homers (Dozier, Sano, Jason Castro) in six innings of a 9-1 loss at Minnesota on May 2.
Minnesota will counter with Lance Lynn (0-1, 6.00 ERA), who is making his fourth start with his new team.
He last pitched Friday and allowed five earned runs in six innings in a no-decision at Tampa Bay after weather caused him to go 10 days between starts.
“I was as sharp tonight as I have been all year,” Lynn said to reporters. “That’s a plus. I threw some good breaking pitches and good changeups. There is still some work to be done.”
Lynn will be hoping to improve his command of the strike zone. He has issued 15 walks so far, giving him a rate of 9.0 per nine innings.
The right-hander is making his second career start against the Yankees. On May 27, 2014, in St. Louis, he threw a five-hit shutout.
Brett Gardner is the only remaining Yankee from Lynn’s appearance against New York, but Giancarlo Stanton is 5-for-17 (.294) and Neil Walker is 15-for-43 (.349) against him.
Copyright © 2018
TTWN Media Networks LLC