The Yankees juggernaut of an offense might even be more potent now if Greg Bird has found his power stroke. Bird homered twice in New York’s 8-1 win over Boston at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
The first baseman was asked what this game meant for him. “I think it puts us back in first place,” Bird said.
But what did it mean to him personally? “Oh. Good day, Come back tomorrow and get back after it, that’s it.”
Bird entered the night with three home runs and six RBI, before connecting for two solo homers.
“It was really good to see Birdie impact the ball,” Aaron Boone said. “Happy for him and hopefully that’s something that can kind of jump start him a little bit because just what we believe he brings is that left-handed, on-base power guy in this ballpark in the middle, breaking up our righties,” Boone said.
Boone felt that Bird controlled the strike zone and had good plate discipline all along, despite a .191 batting average heading into Friday’s game. Bird did have that reputation before he came up to the minors, when Baseball America said of all the players in the Yankees system he had the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline.”
“Those pitches tonight that he hit out of the ballpark that he really impacted, I feel like when he’s gotten those pitches over the last couple of weeks it’s been a hard grounder or a fly ball that he hasn’t really impacted,” Boone said. “Tonight, he jumped on it the other way to left field, that’s a really encouraging one. That’s not easy in this ballpark to do.”
Bird didn’t make any excuses for just missing some pitchers over the last few weeks. “You can’t miss,” Bird said. “Especially in this league.”
Of his 19 hits this season, 12 have gone for extra bases. Bird has shown off his
power but has struggled to stay healthy. He burst on the scene hitting 11 home runs in 46 games at the end of 2015, which tied the record for most home runs for a player debuting in August, but he missed the entire 2016 season recovering from right shoulder labrum surgery.
Injuries limited him to 48 games last season, although he hit nine home runs in only 147 at-bats. A right ankle injury forced him to miss the first 47 games of this season.
Bird was one of the “Baby Bombers” along with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, and did hit a clutch homer off Andrew Miller in Game 3 of the ALDS last season. This multi-homer game was the second of his career. He hit a pair of home runs against the Twins on August 19, 2015, less than a week after his debut in the majors.
Bird mentioned that his balance was better than it had been during his slump. “I’m a big ‘feel’ guy,” Bird said. “Just ride it out, really. Ride out the ups and downs. That’s the biggest thing. Keep going, keep trying to find it, keep working at it.”
Now opposing pitchers have yet another threat to contend with.