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Apr 28, 2024 9:13 am

Alex Verdugo, Yankees hope to clean up again vs. Brewers

alex verdugo

No one knows for sure how long the assignment will last, but Alex Verdugo was a smash hit in his debut Saturday as the New York Yankees’ cleanup hitter.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone shook up his lineup before New York battered the host Milwaukee Brewers 15-3 to even their three-game series. Boone didn’t say if Verdugo would remain in the No. 4 spot in Sunday’s finale — but why not?

The Yankees set season highs with 15 runs and 19 hits, and both teams finished the blowout with position players on the mound.

Verdugo was 3-for-5 with four RBIs out of the cleanup spot, and he put New York on top 3-0 in the top of the first, turning on a slider from Milwaukee’s Joe Ross and crushing it 389 feet over the wall in right-center field.

“I was a bit surprised to see my name in that spot, but let’s go for it,” Verdugo said. “I mean, batting cleanup for the New York Yankees is kind of special.”

Boone, for one night at least, was satisfied.

“As hard as it is in this league to score runs, as good as pitching is, to have a night like that definitely is nice,” Boone said. “Hopefully, a few little things will unlock, and get a few guys going even more.”

Verdugo came to the Yankees in a December trade with the Boston Red Sox for three minor league pitchers. It was thought his lefty bat would produce gappers and line drives, as in his previous stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Red Sox.

In the Yankees’ previous 27 games, Anthony Rizzo had batted cleanup 14 times and Giancarlo Stanton 13 times. Saturday, the struggling Rizzo dropped to sixth and went 3-for-4 with his fourth homer.

Verdugo has batted everywhere between the fifth and seventh spots for Boone, with 15 starts in the No. 7 hole. He came into the game with a .256 average with three homers and nine RBI.

By game’s end, Verdugo’s average was up to .274 and his OPS had risen from .783 to .832.

“I feel like he (Verdugo) was kind of trending in that direction, and now, as he’s prone to do, once he really gets it going, he can put the ball on the barrel,” Boone said. “Like where he’s at right now.”

The Brewers lost for just the third time in 10 games Saturday.

“Twenty-six games in, we were very, very good for 25,” first-year Brewers manager Pat Murphy said. “A game like this, I’m not going to make more of it than what it is. We’ll get back to it tomorrow.”

Sunday afternoon will feature a matchup of right-handers, with veteran Marcus Stroman (2-1, 2.93 ERA) for the Yankees and 25-year-old rookie Tobias Myers (0-1, 1.80) for Milwaukee.

Myers made his major league debut Tuesday in Pittsburgh against the Pirates, going five innings. He gave up four hits — including a homer to Andrew McCutchen — walked one and struck out four over 83 pitches. He was the hard-luck loser in a 2-1 game.

Stroman is 3-1 with a 2.58 ERA in seven career starts against the Brewers, allowing just 24 hits over 45 1/3 innings. He’s 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA in Milwaukee.

–Field Level Media

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