NEW YORK — The Yankees clearly know how to pick up their teammates.
They gave the struggling Joey Gallo the team’s Player of the Game championship belt after he crushed a key two-run homer in a 5-4 win over the Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
They could have given it to Josh Donaldson, who hit the walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.
They could have given it to Anthony Rizzo, whose baserunning and defense played huge parts of the win.
Or they could have given it to Jordan Montgomery, who gave up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Instead, they went with Gallo, whose two-out blast in the sixth inning erased a two run Tigers lead. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa on second base, Gallo worked Detroit starting pitcher Rony Garcia to a full count. Then Garcia threw him a 3-1, 92-mph sinker waist-high and away.
Gallo tanked it into the left-field seats for his first blast since May 15 and his sixth homer of the year.
“It was nice,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been in so many situations where I could have come through. I was happy to help the team and tie the game there.”
The team’s postgame championship belt ceremony, which started in 2018, happens after every win. The previous win’s player of the game stands in the middle of the Yankees’ clubhouse, points out key contributors to that day’s win, and then names the winner, who wraps it up with his own speech.
Gallo went 1-for-3. He’s hitting just .176 this season. He’s had such difficulty at the plate that manager Aaron Boone has dropped him lately to the ninth spot in the order.
“I feel like I haven’t helped the team too much at the plate lately,” he said. “So, that felt good coming to the dugout, knowing that I contributed.”
Said Boone, “It was huge. Just happy for him, know how much he’s grinding, know how much he cares, know how much the guys in that room care about him.
He continued, “A huge swing there by Joey. Happy for him. It’s a hard game and you’ve got to just keep on competing and working to figure it out.”
When reporters entered the clubhouse — which was still thick with fog and loud with music from their postgame celebration — the belt with its blue leather and gold plates was sitting on Gallo’s chair.
Still, he wanted to talk about the team, not about the honor, though he appreciated it.
“That was a good team win, man,” Gallo said. “An 11:30 a.m. game is tough. I don’t think I’ve ever played an 11:30 game since high school. For the clubhouse to come in here and play hard in a game like that, you always give credit to everybody else.”
Please subscribe to us now and support the local journalism YOU rely on and trust.
Brendan Kuty may be reached at [email protected].