Matt Carpenter came into the game never having faced Shohei Ohtani before, but with a plan. A Yankee for just a week now, he was back in the leadoff spot for the first game of the split doubleheader against the Angels — and he made an immediate impact.
Carpenter had an 11-pitch at-bat against the Angels two-way star in the Yankees’ 6-1 win over the Angels. Carpenter set the tone with a leadoff homer.
“For anybody who’s throwing 100 miles an hour, if you’re not on (their fastball) then you don’t have a chance on anything else. So I just really stepped in the box trying to stay on this heater,” Carpenter said. “And really just got into a battle with him, you know, fouled off pitches, and he kept on throwing strikes and making pitches and I was able to spoil a few.
“Going into that at-bat I knew that if I got into a 3-2 count, just based off of watching his previous starts, I thought there was a chance that he might try to throw a slider/cutter in that spot,” Carpenter continued. “The first 3-2 pitch was a heater I fouled off and then the second 3-2 pitch was that slider/ cutter and I was able to put a good swing on it and put us on the board.”
Carpenter started 760 games leading off over his career and he enjoyed it.
“I spent a lot of my career in the leadoff spot and took a lot of pride in starting games off with long at-bats. It doesn’t always have to end up with with a hit, doesn’t have to end up with a home run but I feel like, as a leadoff hitter, if you can go out there and have a good six-pitch, seven-pitch at bat, today was 11, it just really sets the tone,” Carpenter said. “The opposing pitcher obviously doesn’t want that and you’re just letting him know that like we’re coming here to fight and it’s not gonna be an easy day for you and so that was great, to set that tone.”
Each of Carpenter’s first three hits since joining the Yankees were home runs and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the third Yankee all-time to homer for his first three hits, joining Kyle Higashioka in 2018 and Alfonso Soriano in 1999-2000.
“I’d like to mix a single in there. That’d be nice,” Carpenter said with a laugh. “Yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought much about it. I’m just gonna keep it in the box and try to compete and have good at-bats and get some good swings off here to start and just want to keep riding it out there.”
LOU GEHRIG DAY
Baseball commemorated Lou Gehrig and his battle with ALS on Thursday by raising awareness of the battle to find a cure for the disease that killed the Yankees first baseman. The Yankees hosted a number of individuals living with ALS and had two pregame ceremonies honoring those who are battling to fund research to end the disease. Maria Cooper Janis, daughter of actor Gary Cooper who played Gehrig in “Pride of the Yankees,” was scheduled to throw out the first pitch before the nightcap.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone did his pregame press conference wearing an end ALS T-shirt.
“I think Lou Gehrig died 81 years ago and we still have this awful disease and not a lot has changed. It’s a very cruel disease. Obviously, Lou Gehrig is one of the greatest players of all time, but obviously synonymous with this disease,” Boone said. “So the fact that our sport has taken this on and hopefully become a face of it and and hopefully just raising awareness to it that we can make some progress on bettering the lives of people that ultimately get this horrendous disease. I’m so proud that baseball is taking that initiative and putting a face on this.”
The Yankees had to forfeit using Pitch Comm during the first game of the doubleheader on Thursday because the Angels’ system went down. Angels manager Joe Maddon had a long and heated exchange with the umpires before the bottom of the fifth inning and the next inning the Yankees’ Nestor Cortes and the bench was told not to use the audible system to signal pitches between catcher and pitcher.
The Yankees had to revert to using the old hand signs from catcher to pitcher.
“The Angels had a Pitch Comm issue. It wasn’t solved in game, so we weren’t able to use our Pitch Comm the last couple innings either,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So hopefully that gets sorted out.”
That wasn’t Maddon’s only complaint about pitchers’ communications.
He made several comments about how good the Yankees were at reading pitchers. The Angels manager implied that the Bombers may have picked up on Shoehei Ohtani tipping his pitches in the 6-1 win in the first game. While Maddon made it clear he was not implying the Yankees did anything illegal, the Angels would be very aware of the Bombers’ tactics. Former Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, who was let go last October, is the Angels’ third base coach.
After sweeping the split doubleheader at the Stadium Thursday, the Yankees returned “27th man,” Estevan Florial to Triple-A Scranton. They also optioned right-handed pitcher David McKay to Scranton as well, leaving an open spot on their 26th man roster.
Josh Donaldson (shoulder) and Giancarlo Stanton (ankle) are both close to being ready to come off the injured list.