Kyle Higashioka was one of them Wednesday night when the career backup catcher, who was eliminated from the Yankees’ 40-man roster five years ago and brought back a dozen days later, scored three home runs and led the Yanks to 13-2. Turned out to be the Blue Jays in the Bronx.
Holding Gerrit Cole for the third straight game, Higashikoka hit a two-run homer in the third inning, ran on the warning track in the fourth, a base-empty homer in the sixth and a two-run homer in the seventh.
“I think at this point, the way he’s swinging, I could be his personal pitcher,” Cole said of Higashoka, who was Cole’s teammate on the Southern California summer circuit as a teenager .
The Yankees tied it at a season high with a seventh straight win, followed by a 20-6 flurry of the Blue Jams on Tuesday night when they hit six homers. He topped until Wednesday.
In addition to Higashioka’s power show, DJ Lemahieu added two homers and Clint Frazier and Luke Voight added to each other. Voit runs 19 in-house majors.
Higashioka started the night with 178 big-league homers in 178 at-bats and is considered a defense-first catcher with some pop if pitchers are missed on the inside half.
“He’s an elite receiver, I mean he has amazing hands behind the plate,” Aaron Boone said of the 30-year-old Higashioka, the Yankees’ seventh round pick in the 2008 draft. “And he has power in the plate. The power potential is there, and you saw that it will be revealed tonight. ‘
Higashioka’s first three big league hits were homers, but the first halted an indoors try for the majors, so the three ranked first on Wednesday night.
“I think it could be number one. Higashoka stated that the first three came after a 0–22 and that they were three hits out of more than 12 bats. The left ran on the warning track in the fourth inning.
Higashioka’s muscle overhead was Cole’s second solid outing in which he delivered one run and three hits in seven innings. He went 5–3 with a 3.00 ERA and a career 100th win.
The win pushed the Yankees within three lengths of the AL pre-leading Rays. The three-game loss is actually four as the Rays won the season series against the Yankees and held the tiebreaker.
After 11 games remaining, the Yankees hold a 1-game advantage over the Blue Jays in the second-place race, which brings an automatic bid to the postseason tournament.
Higashioka became the 23rd player in Yankee history to hit three or more homers in a regular season game. Higashikoka members of that fraternity include Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez.
“What a demonstration. He has got that kind of power. I think he did a fantastic job with the fastball being aggressive. Boones said that the other day he was not missing her. “Great work behind the plate and one night in the plate he will always remember.”
And every player has come to know something.
“It’s like crazy how baseball sometimes works,” said Higisaoka, who started the night hitting .188 (6-for-32). “One minute you can’t hit the ball to save your life and the next game you play will put you in the fence three times. It is kind of crazy but hopefully as a team we keep swinging the bat well. ”