Gio Urshela deserves some sort of honorary title for his 2021 efforts to date, for building on his strong pinstriped foundation of 2019-20, so how about this: Glue guy
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He can’t be the Yankees’ most valuable player to date, not with Gerrit Cole on the roster, and “best hitter” doesn’t quite cut it either, even in this team’s diminished offensive state.
Yet Gio Urshela deserves some sort of honorary title for his 2021 efforts to date, for building on his strong pinstriped foundation of 2019-20, so how about this:
The consistently reliable performer who keeps the whole operation from falling apart.
Another turbulent day in the Yankees’ universe featured a happy ending thanks to Urshela, whose pinch-hit, three-run, seventh-inning homer, punctuating a nine-pitch at-bat, elevated his club to a 5-4 victory over the Orioles, rewarding the Yankees loyalists who traveled down to Orioles Park at Camden Yards and — no small matter — covering up for some ugly baseball that preceded it.
“I think that’s a good way of putting it. He has been an absolute glue guy for us,” Aaron Boone said of Urshela. “He’s hit everywhere in the order for us. Gotten a ton of big hits. And obviously special defensively for us as well.”
“I’m just trying to keep that confidence that I’ve been working on the last couple of years, bring that confidence every single day that I play,” Urshela said. “That’s all that I’m trying to do.”
The victory erased the stench of Thursday night’s 9-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field and eased the pain of neither Aaron Hicks (torn tendon sheath in left wrist) nor Giancarlo Stanton (left quad tightness) being available. Hicks’ specific injury is a serious concern and anything with Stanton generally sets off alarms. Gleyber Torres, moreover, missed another game due to his positive COVID-19 test, although it sounds like he might be the quickest to return.
Urshela, who didn’t start the game due to his own lingering left knee ailment, got the call from Boone in the seventh after Miguel Andujar singled and Kyle Higashioka walked with one out, after the O’s had put together a three-run fifth inning against Corey Kluber to jump ahead, 4-2. To that juncture, the contest had been defined by Yankees sloppiness, from Clint Frazier’s baffling baserunning in the fourth to a very questionable losing replay challenge to Tyler Wade’s inability to put down a fifth-inning bunt or catch an Aaron Judge throw in the fifth. With Wade’s turn coming, Boone fired his Urshela bullet. Said the manager: “I’m glad I had that sitting over there tonight as a weapon, obviously.”
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde called upon Travis Lakins to relieve Cole Sulser, and the right-hander gave it his all, firing off a blend of four-seam fastballs and cutters to get ahead, 1-and-2, and keep Urshela on his toes. Urshela, however, proved up to the task, looking at ball two and then fouling off four straight pitches.
“I know this is a pitcher who throws a lot of cutters, so I’ve gotta be ready for that cutter,” Urshela said. “… He threw me one on the outside corner and I hit it.”
Yes, he went with it, to right-center field, 414 feet, catapulting the Yankees ahead, a three-run homer in the city where Earl Weaver rode that vehicle to the Hall of Fame.
“That was the swing of the night right there,” said Aaron Judge, who contributed a pair of solo homers.
Nine outs later, courtesy of Chad Green, Wandy Peralta and Jonathan Loaisiga, the Yankees had their 14th win in 20 games.
Urshela said afterward that his knee felt better and he’d start Saturday night’s game, a relief for the Yankees. As their lineup has struggled mightily, with some key guys underperforming and others not available, no one has produced more steadily than Urshela, and we’re just now getting around to his defensive excellence.
“He’s just a consistent all-around player,” Judge said of his teammate. “… He’s a lot like DJ [LeMahieu], another guy like him who comes up with big hits, ready to work every day.”
Ready to make this team’s ambitions stick like glue.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff