The New York Yankees know how to hit home runs. Of course, this comes as no surprise to those who know Ruth, Mantle and Maris is not a law firm based in The Bronx.
The franchise has been historically linked to the long ball since The Babe hit the first homer in Yankee Stadium in 1923. And Maris held the modern-day single-season home run record of 61 until Barry Bonds and his PED obsession wiped it off the face of the earth.
Still, nothing in the past quite compares to what these sluggers have been able to accomplish over the last two seasons.
First, they set the single-season Major League record for most homers last year by clubbing 267. And this season, they have tied their franchise record for homers in consecutive games by collecting at least one in their last 26.
The Yankees can break their record -and tie the MLB record – Monday when they host the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
The record-breaking blast was provided by DJ LeMahieu on Sunday, a three-run shot in the fifth inning. That shattered a franchise mark that has stood since 1941 when Joe DiMaggio was prowling center field. DiMaggio hit 10 homers in the midst of that streak from June 1-29 of that season.
“Guys are putting together good at-bats, and that’s what’s great about this team: We could hit a home run at any point,” Yankees first baseman said after Sunday’s 9-4 loss to the Houston Astros that stopped an eight-game winning streak. It doesn’t matter who’s pitching, if it’s the first inning or last inning. It’s pretty cool. And DJ’s been hot right now.”
During this current Yankees splurge, which began on May 26, catcher Gary Sanchez has hit eight homers. LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres have six each.
During the streak, a dozen separate players have hit the 45 homers. Ironically, none have come from their two main power sources, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both just returned to the club last week after missing an extended period of time with injuries.
“We’ve got a great lineup, and a lot of guys that can hurt you,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s in a lot of ways one of the ways we’re built. We do a really great job, and especially in this ballpark — and especially our right-handed hitters — of being able to use the entire field, which, when you play here, is important if you’re going to hit for consistent power. And our guys, for the most part, really do that well.”
The Major League record for consecutive games with at least one homer is 27 held by the 2002 Texas Rangers.
The Yankees have already hit 126 homers this season, paced by Sanchez, who has 23. Torres has hit 18 and Voit has 17. Brent Gardner and Clint Frazier have 11 each, LeMahieu has 10.
And just two weeks ago, the team acquired slugger Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners. He has two homers in his first 26 at-bats with the Yankees, but hit 21 before his acquisition.
“This is a confident group,” Voit said. “Everybody in this locker room expects the best out of us every night, and it doesn’t matter who does it. Everyone has that next-man-up mentality to get the job done.”
Before losing on Sunday, the Yankees, who are already 21 games over .500, had won the first three games of a compelling mid-season series against the Houston Astros, another strong contender for the American League pennant. The Astros had lost seven straight.
“These are fun games to be a part of, because you know you’re up against a really good team, and you can feel that when you’re playing them, even though they’re going through a little tough time,” Boone said.
“It’s nice to win these when you know you have to play well, but don’t look much further than that.”