Alex Verdugo soaked in every second of his first Yankees home run

PHOENIX — Alex Verdugo seemed like he had been waiting for this moment, so once he connected for his first home run as a Yankee, he waited a while longer to start running the bases.

The outfielder demolished a two-run home run on the first pitch of the 10th inning Wednesday, at the time giving the Yankees a lead before they beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 11 innings at Chase Field.

As the ball flew into the right-field seats, Verdugo took his time watching it go to soak it all in before getting off a bat flip and jogging around the bases.

Alex Verdugo flips the bat after hitting his first home run as a Yankee. Getty Images

“First one with New York, big spot like that, it felt good,” said Verdugo, an Arizona native who had a big cheering section of family and friends. “Seeing the boys get fired up, everybody’s barking at me, it was one of those ones that just felt good.”

Verdugo, who brought on the barking by labeling the Yankees as “dawgs” during their sweep of the Astros, said he was just trying to hit the ball to the right side to move the automatic runner over. Instead he scored them both with one swing after starting the year 3-for-24.

“That was a big moment,” Aaron Judge said. “He’s been having some great swings and just not getting results as of late. … I enjoyed it. I think the fans enjoyed it, we definitely enjoyed it. I loved it. The guy’s a gamer.”

New York Yankees’ Alex Verdugo (24) reacts after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Yankees bullpen has been mostly sharp to start the season, but then there was what Ian Hamilton did on Wednesday.

Hamilton relieved Carlos Rodon in a tie game and tossed 2 ²/₃ perfect innings with four strikeouts and wipeout stuff.

The right-hander, who may fill the Michael King void as the Yankees’ multi-inning relief threat, has now thrown 5 ²/₃ scoreless innings with seven strikeouts across three appearances this season.

“Wow,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That’s one of those where those guys haven’t seen him much at all and their swings showed it. Those are swings, like, ‘What is that?’ It was a dominant performance and obviously a tremendous bridge to get us to the back. He’s been great all trip.”

Ian Hamilton pitches against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Getty Images

The Diamondbacks lost their DH in the top of the 11th when Ketel Marte was forced to move to shortstop after Geraldo Perdomo was hurt running the bases in the bottom of the 10th and had to be pinch run for by outfielder Jake McCarthy.

That resulted in the Yankees intentionally walking Gabriel Moreno with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 11th to bring up pitcher Scott McGough.

Arizona had just scored a run to make it 6-5, but if that runner had stopped at third to load the bases, Boone said he would have walked the run in to get to McGough.

The plan worked, as Caleb Ferguson struck out McGough to end it.

“You add a layer of oddity for the pitcher,” Boone said. “But I was absolutely convicted on doing it.”

Boone wanted to get Judge a second DH day Wednesday, which meant Giancarlo Stanton’s second trip to the bench.

After an encouraging spring, Stanton has gotten off to a slow start to the season, batting 3-for-20 with one home run, 11 strikeouts and one walk in five games.

“I think he’s healthy,” Boone said. “The life is there, the juice is there, it’s just a matter of getting him going. Even when G is at his very best, sometimes the outs aren’t always the prettiest. But as long as he’s healthy and firing, I feel like the bat speed and everything is where it needs to be. It’s just about getting on time and not putting some of the pitches that, when he is getting his good swing off, can’t miss it.”

Verdugo got his first action of the season in center field for the final four innings of the game.

Jon Berti had pinch hit for center fielder Trent Grisham in the top of the eighth against left-hander Joe Mantiply and then stayed in the game at third base.

Oswaldo Cabrera moved from third base to left field with Verdugo shifting from left to center, his first time playing there since 2021.


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