BALTIMORE — Greg Bird provided a boost to the Yankees three years ago when he was a late-season call-up and drilled 11 homers in 46 games, helping spark a run to the wild card.
But with Bird stuck in a disastrous slump, the Yankees turned again to Luke Voit, the 27-year-old first baseman acquired from the Cardinals last month, and again on Sunday, Voit delivered.
After hitting just five homers in his first 77 games in the majors, Voit has gone deep three times in his past three games, including a two-run shot in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Orioles. He matched a career-high set Friday with three hits after a single in the eighth.
“It’s like Christmas morning,” Voit said. “It’s great for my confidence. This is the first time I’ve actually got an opportunity in the big leagues. I’ve always been a bench player. It feels good to get consistent at-bats.”
The opposite-field shot off right-hander Dylan Bundy came with two outs in the top of the second and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, sending the Yankees to a four-game sweep of the historically bad Orioles.
And as he’s done in some of his other trips around the bases, Voit showed his emotion, pumping his right hand in the air between first and second.
“That’s just me being a little kid and having fun,” Voit said. “If I’m not having fun, there’s no point in playing this game. This is my chance to show everyone what I’ve got.”
He also walked to start the fourth and added a single to center and scored in the sixth. After the single, Voit moved to second on Austin Romine’s walk, then advanced to third on Shane Robinson’s fly ball to right. He scored on a wild pitch by Cody Carroll for the Yankees’ fifth run.
A chant of “Luke” followed Voit off the field from the contingent of Yankee fans in the tiny crowd at Camden Yards.
“It reminds me of my high school football games, when I used to get that chant when I was a running back,” said Voit, who grew up in Missouri and dreamed of playing linebacker in college.
Instead, he’s giving the Yankees another option at first base and he figures to start again Monday against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon.
“He’s definitely earned his keep here and having an impact on us winning some games,” Aaron Boone said.
Voit, picked up along with international signing pool money in exchange for lefty Chasen Shreve before the non-waiver trade deadline, was first recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this month but did nothing to distinguish himself.
Didi Gregorius’ bruised left heel, which sent him to the disabled list, coupled with Bird’s relentless struggles at the plate, motivated the Yankees to bring back Voit, and he hasn’t disappointed.
Since a pinch-hit in Miami last week, Voit is 8-for-12 with three homers in four games.
Bird, in contrast, has started just once since Wednesday and is hitless in his past 17 at-bats.
Boone made it clear Friday that Voit would get his chance to play regularly at first base and that “performance matters.”
And as Luis Severino, who picked up the victory, said of Voit: “He’s doing everything right now.”
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