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Gio Urshela is here to challenge DJ LeMahieu for the batting title

2019-08-14

DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela are neck and neck for the best batting average in the American League, and on Tuesday, they led the Yankees against the Orioles at the Stadium in a breezy 8-3 win. The Bombers improved to 80-41 on the season, tied with the Dodgers for the best record in baseball.

LeMahieu has commanded the AL batting champ race all year, leading the pack with a .337 batting average. He went 1-for-4 Tuesday night, but led off the first by crushing the first pitch he saw for a solo homer, giving the Yankees a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Urshela, who is closing in on the minimum number of plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, went 3 for 5, pushing his average to .336 and closing the gap between he and LeMahieu.

Gio Urshela went 3-for-5 on Tuesday, raising his batting average to .336 and inching closer to DJ LeMahieu's .337 clip. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Despite his chance at the batting title, Urshela insists he’s “just thinking about winning games.”

The Yanks had a huge end to bottom of the fourth when, with two outs, Aaron Judge took a John Means pitch and hit a two-out double to left field, driving in Mike Tauchman and Austin Romine.

Boone was encouraged by Judge’s 1-for-4 game, calling out the 115 mph rocket he hit to third in his first at bat. “Good to see him clip a few balls,” said Boone. “Hopefully him starting to get more and more confident.”

After Means exited and Miguel Castro entered the game, the party continued with an Urshela single to right to bring in Judge, and a Gary Sanchez double to his pull side to get Urshela across the plate.

Romine chipped in three hits on the night — he’s hitting .364 since June 16 — while Tauchman added two of his own. Every Yankee batter hit safely at least once through the night.

In a shocking turn of events, the Yankees only hit one home run against the Orioles Tuesday. (Gasp!) Even more surprising: No big flies from Gleyber Torres, who went 1-for-4 with a walk.

Less surprising is the fact that the Yankees won against the Orioles once again. The Bombers have now won 15 straight against the Birds, and wrap up the season with a merciless 16-2 record against their division foes.

Domingo German cruised through seven innings, allowing just two earned runs — both on solo shots — on five hits while striking out seven and walking just one batter. He earned his league-leading 16th win of the season Tuesday. German’s pitches were noticeably sharper than his last start, averaging 93 mph with his heater and touching 95 mph on a handful of four-seamers.

Romine praised the movement and command on German’s offspeed pitches. “He was moving the ball in and out,” the Yankees backstop said. “A lot of movement on balls. Curveballs, changeups. Anything. He can throw anything anytime. It really tends to keep guys off balance.”

German’s mindset also stood out to Romine. “Domingo is just out there to pitch. He’s just having fun. He’s confident in what he has and what he can do,” said Romine. “He’s just worried about executing pitches. It’s a good thing.”

Despite crossing the 100-inning mark and approaching his personal innings high for a single season, German is confident his arm can hold up through the rest of the season. Through a translator, German told reporters, “My body’s in the right shape, the right place to take on however many more innings are to come.”

Boone stressed that the Yankees don’t have an innings limit in place. “Honestly, we feel he’s strong right now and has a lot left in the tank.”

Adonis Rosa made his big league debut, throwing the final two innings and allowing a garbage-time solo shot to Renato Nunez to finish off the Birds. Boone called his approach, “fearless,” and expressed his appreciation for the rookie’s effort, adding that he “gave us what we needed.”

Rosa said he “very shocked” to learn he was joining the Yankees big league team. “The manager was calling and calling, I was sleeping,” Rosa explained. “Eventually, he went over and knocked on my door and told me ‘Hey, you’re going to the big leagues.’”

The rookie admits he was nervous at first but said he reminded himself, “This is the game I played all my life. I know how to do this.”

After Rosa gave the team what they needed, like Brady Lail before him, the Yankees optioned the 24-year-old back to the minors.