Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Kid is Hot Tonight

..Whoa so hot tonight, but where will he be tomorrow? - Loverboy

Comings and going in the Yankees clubhouse is nothing out of the ordinary these days. Given the chance to play, some have played well for short or long stretches, some have been up and down from the minors like a yo-yo, and some are just getting their chance to make their mark. Such is the case with Zoilo Almonte.

Making his first Major League start after two pinch-hit appearances, Almonte had three hits, including his first Major League home run to spark the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. He also got a big cheer from the crowd when his throw from left field to home plate smacked into the catcher Austin Romine's mitt like a 95-mph fastball and froze a  Rays base runner at third base in the process.

Almonte is just the latest player given a shot to contribute to a struggling lineup. The recently turned 24-year old had impressed Joe Girardi in the last two Spring Trainings, so it was no surprise that he was recalled earlier in the week and given a chance to contribute.

The native of the Dominican Republic hit 21 HR, drove in 70 runs, stole 15 bases, and had an .808 OPS at Double-A Trenton last year. This season, his first at the Triple-A, his batting average is up (.297) from last year, but his power numbers have dipped. However, his 30 walks and 47 strikeouts in 293 plate appearances are respectable.

Almonte wasn't alone in snapping the Yankees two game losing streak. David Phelps fought his way through five-plus innings to improve to 5-4 and Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera shut the Rays down the rest of the way.  Jayson Nix was the only player in the starting lineup without ast least one hit.

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