Gregorius homers twice, Harper hit twice, Yanks top Nats 3-0
CC Sabathia was just surprised, not realizing why the crowd gave him a prolonged ovation in the fourth inning of a superb outing.
In a matchup of division leaders, Harper gave the Nationals a scare when he fell to the ground in pain after getting hit on the right elbow by a 90 mph pitch from Sabathia in the fifth inning. The 2015 NL MVP remained in the game but then came out after he was hit on the left foot by Dellin Betances‘ 89 mph slider leading off the eighth.
”I feel fine. Elbow feels OK, and the big toe just hurts a little bit,” Harper said. ”I already got an X-ray on the toe. I’m fine.”
Gregorius has had a ”That’s Life” season, following the song’s lyrics of ”You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.”
He hit .327 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs through the season’s first full month, slumped to a .151 average with one homer and five RBIs in May and began the night with no homers and one RBI in June.
”It’s just getting to know myself through that slump,” he said. ”I’m still not out of it.”
He drove a hanging curveball from Tanner Roark (3-7) into the Yankees bullpen in right-center during a two-run second that also included Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly. It was just the second home run for Gregorius since April 27.
He sent a fastball into the right-field second deck leading off the sixth for his fourth multihomer game, third this season. Gregorius has hit 11 of his 13 long balls in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. New York leads the major leagues with 105.
”When Didi’s at his best,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone explained, ”he’s into the ground – his feet really drive into the ground.”
A big league-best 43-19, New York was coming off a 7-2 trip. Sabathia (4-1) allowed four hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first outing against Washington since 2009 and lowered his ERA to 3.27. He is 11-0 in 17 regular-season starts following a Yankees loss since the start of the 2017 season.
Fans applauded at length in the fourth when the video board informed fans the strikeout of Michael A. Taylor was Sabathia’s 1,500th since joining the Yankees for the 2009 season. The 37-year-old left-hander’s three strikeouts raised his career total to 2,893.
”I didn’t know what was going on, and Ro told me turn around,” Sabathia said, referring to Romine.
Only then did Sabathia toss the ball to the dugout as a keepsake. Boone wasn’t surprised by Sabathia’s obliviousness to his own exploits.
”For being a superstar and everything, he’s so not into himself,” Boone said.
Harper, who leads the NL with 19 homers but is hitting .215 since May 1, had been hit by a pitch just once previously this season and had not been dinged twice in a game since Aug. 16, 2013, at Atlanta.
”Kind of worried me when he started walking off the field,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
A free-agent-to-be, Harper had walked in his first two plate appearances.
”It just hurt, so trying to walk down the first base line, there was no point,” he said. ”No ill feelings at all.”
Nationals All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy made his season debut after recovering from right knee surgery on Oct. 20. He was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts as the designated hitter and did not hit the ball out of the infield.
”His timing could have been a little bit off,” Martinez said. ”He’s going to be fine.”
Bob Boone, father of the Yankees manager, is a Nationals executive and rooted against his son.
”They pay him,” Aaron Boone said. ”My boys are actually with my mom and dad in San Diego right now. They flew in today, so it’ll be a split household. I know my mom will be pulling for me. And my boys will be pulling for me, that’s for sure. So that’s fine. Somebody in the house can cheer for the other team.”
Taylor made a terrific catch on the warning track to snag Neil Walker’s drive with a runner on in the fourth, sliding into the wall with both legs. Taylor stole second two innings later, then was called out on a replay review.
Washington gave 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto his first game off since his major league debut on May 20. He is hitting .328 with three homers and eight RBIs.
Brandon Drury shifted to 1B from 3B in the second game of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s doubleheader.
”Adding some versatility to his game certainly, yeah, puts him in a better position to be able to help our club again at some point,” Boone said.
Yankees: RHP Luis Cessa will get a few more rehab starts. The 26-year-old right-hander, sidelined since mid-April by a left oblique strain, allowed two runs over 1 2/3 innings for Class A Tampa on Monday night.
RHP Sonny Gray (4-4, 4.81 ERA) starts Wednesday night for the Yankees after allowing two runs and three hits over seven innings to win at Toronto last week. RHP Erick Fedde will be brought up to start for Washington to take the slot that opened when RHP Stephen Strasburg went on the disabled list. Fedde lost against San Diego on May 23 in his only big league appearance this season.
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