The disparity between the MLB-best Yankees and the last-place Rockies was reflected in Friday’s score (8-2), but the gap might not have grown as great if Colorado had kept its talent.
In the first meeting against their former team, DJ LeMahieu and Mike Tauchman combined for five hits and four runs, while Adam Ottavino struck out the side in a perfect inning of relief. Entering the season, LeMahieu, Ottavino and Tauchman had combined to play their past 16 years with the Rockies.
“I think it felt really good,” said Ottavino, who holds a team-best 1.66 ERA. “Everybody wants to perform well against familiar people.”
Tauchman wasn’t familiar to most in Colorado, receiving just 59 at-bats in 52 games over two seasons with the Rockies before being traded to the Yankees in March.
Then, he delivered a career-high three hits against them.“I’m really happy for Tauchman, especially,” Ottavino said. “He had an unbelievable all-around game. The [Rockies] didn’t give him a lot of chances, honestly, and he came and put his best foot forward here today, and I know it meant a lot to him honestly.”
Initially, Tauchman turned the tide with his defense.
The Rockies led 2-0 in the second inning, and were set to add another run on Charlie Blackmon’s fly ball to left field. With Garrett Hampson at third, Tauchman made the catch for the second out, and then fired a one-hop bullet to the plate, setting up Gary Sanchez’s tag to end the inning.
“That’s a big, big play that shifts the game early,” Yankees bench coach Josh Bard said. “He’s really been ready. … He’s been productive and kudos goes to the [front] office for going out and finding us another diamond in the rough.”
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Tauchman then displayed what the Rockies had never seen, matching his entire hit total of 2018 by going 3-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base.
Making just his third start in 13 days, Tauchman made every moment count, turning a two-out bloop hit into left field into a fourth-inning double, with LeMahieu driving him in with a single on the next at-bat, giving the Yankees a 5-2 lead. LeMahieu, who made two All-Star Game appearances in seven years with the Rockies, and added another after signing a two-year, $24 million bargain to come to The Bronx, is hitting .440 (37-for-84) with runners in scoring position.
In the sixth, LeMahieu brought Tauchman home again. Following a one-out single by Tauchman, the 28-year-old outfielder stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error. Tauchman then sprinted home on LeMahieu’s swing, which resulted in a slow chopper to third, but the outfielder’s slide beat six-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado’s throw.
LeMahieu, who leads the American League with a .330 batting average, set a new career-high in RBIs (65) with more than 40 percent of the regular season remaining, while Tauchman is hitting .360 with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs in his past 20 games.
“It was kind of different,” Tauchman said. ”There’s a lot of those guys that I played with for a lot of years … while it was kind of a cool thing to play against those guys, I had expectations of getting the job done tonight and performing as if it was any other game.”