Anthony Rizzo at the head batting in AL Wild Card Game
BOSTON – Anthony Rizzo didn’t blink once informed he would take first place in Tuesday’s American League game – sure, it was a slightly different mission, but it was a task that the first player Yankees goal had performed well in the past.
It wasn’t until Rizzo realized that Kyle Schwarber was also in the lead, taking first place in the Red Sox roster, that it became a “wow” moment for former Cubs stars. And the thrills didn’t end until the game, as the two unexpected hitters scored in big spots. Rizzo tucked his sixth-inning solo blast just inside the Pesky Pole, three innings after Schwarber’s blast helped knock starter Gerrit Cole out of the game. Equally important was the Rizzo circuit as it was the first damage to Nathan Eovaldi, who had sailed so far.
Rizzo and Schwarber discussed the chance in a brief pre-game conversation, something neither of them could have predicted a year ago.
“It’s pretty cool to come full circle and play against a really good friend, starting out too,” said Rizzo. “He’s not your prototypical starting forwards, but he’s also excited about it.”
Rizzo has started 65 career games at No. 1, but none since joining the Yankees before the July 30 trade deadline of this year. He’s compiled a .321 / .407 / .554 (77-for-240) slash line through those games, all taking place with the 2017-21 Cubs.
“It’s really just valuing Gleyber in the middle of the order with our guys, wanting Rizzo and [Aaron] Judge and [Giancarlo] Stanton up there as much as possible, ”Boone said. “Having Gleyber in the middle, I feel like it’s the guys who go to the base. I hope there are opportunities for him, and he’s a guy that I really want with runners on the bases.
According to the Elias Athletic Office, this is the first time in playoff history that a game’s starting hitters were teammates from the previous season at another club. Schwarber was not tendered by the Cubs after the 2020 campaign.
Rizzo has said there is something special about he will be first at bat in the 2021 playoffs.
“My goal is not to let [Nathan] Eovaldi settles anything, ”said Rizzo. “He’s an aggressive pitcher in the strike zone. I’m sure he’s going to come out shooting today with the adrenaline rush and everything. But it will be exciting. … I’m still knocking in front of Judge, so that comfort level is still there. I’ve been doing this pretty much since I’ve been here. It’s just a higher location.
Gio is A-OK
Two days after taking a nasty fall in the steps of the visitors’ canoe at Yankee Stadium, Gio Urshela performed a pre-game routine on Tuesday, performing agility drills and taking balls off the ground.
This process told the Yankees that, as promised, Urshela was good enough to play. Some lingering pain and mobility issues prompted Boone to insert Urshela at the third baseman of the Wild Card Game, rather than the shortstop. Andrew Velazquez took the short start instead.
“Gio is doing pretty well actually, all things considered,” said Boone. “Especially with the third [base] being his natural stance, because he’s not quite 100%, I felt more comfortable having him at least start the match in third and go with the defense with ‘Squid’ at the back. ‘shortstop.
The Yankees had a few surprise additions to their Wild Card Game roster, choosing to wear outfielder Greg Allen and wide receiver Rob Brantly. Boone said the club wanted to take advantage of the extra spots created by not carrying starting pitchers Corey Kluber, Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon.
“Having that third receiver gives you a little bit of flexibility late in the game if you find yourself in a situation or want to be aggressive for a receiver at some point in the game,” said Boone. “With Greg Allen he did such a good job for us when he was with us earlier this year. He’s had a really good year between the big leagues and triple A. He’s another guy that we can shoot in a late-inning situation or a big hitting at one point.
He said it
“I think we have a group of guys who like to play when the stakes are high. And I feel like the last two months have prepared us pretty well for that. Whatever happens tonight, I feel like we’re going to go out and play our game and play with confidence. And that’s because I think these guys love to play in this rivalry, to play with whatever is at stake against a really good team. – Boone
This date in Yankee history
October 5, 1953: Billy Martin connected for a World Series winning hitting, knocking out Hank Bauer at home in Game 6 of the Fall Classic to carry the Yankees to a 4-3 victory over the Dodgers.