Vladimir Guerrero Jr., even with a bleeding hand, puts on a show in the Blue Jays win over the Yankees on Wednesday
The stats in the box score will look impressive enough, but what they won’t show are the intangible qualities of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that have him on the fast track to being the most feared slugger of this generation.
The massive power, the ability to turn around on blazing fastballs, his willingness to use every side of the field. Guerrero showed off all of it on Wednesday on a special night at Yankee Stadium.
Guerrero hit three home runs, two of them off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and added a double to propel the Blue Jays to a 6-4 win. The performance was Guerrero’s second three-home run game of his young career, becoming, at barely 23 years of age, the second-youngest player in MLB history with multiple three-homer games.
His first was his closest call, a hanging slider from Cole in the first inning that deflected off the glove of Aaron Hicks in straightaway centre field and narrowly cleared the wall. The second was the most impressive. Cole threw a 98 mph fastball that darted in on Guerrero, a nearly unhittable pitch. But it was no problem for Guerrero; he tucked in his hands, got the barrel around, and sent the ball into the Bronx night before it landed in the left-field bullpen 427 feet away.
Even Cole had to tip his cap and salute Guerrero after his third hit, a line-drive double to the opposite field. Cole was making his 236th career start on Wednesday; Guerrero became the first player ever with three extra-base hits off him in a game.
Guerrero capped off his night with a 443-foot homer into the second deck in left off reliever Jonathan Loasiga in the eighth inning, a shot that put the Blue Jays ahead 5-3. In the ninth inning, aiming to join Carlos Delgado as the only player in franchise history with a four-homer game, Guerrero was left standing on deck as the Blue Jays went down in order.
Guerrero puts his name in the history books
When Guerrero had his first three-homer game last April in Dunedin, he pulled off a feat that his Hall of Fame father never did. His second less than 12 months later puts him into some elite company. He now has as many three-homer games in his career as Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Ken Griffey Jr. Yankees legend Mickey Mantle only had one three-homer game in his career; so did former home run king Hank Aaron.
Guerrero’s 14 total bases on Wednesday were the second-most in Blue Jays history, behind only Delgado’s four homers in 2003. It had been since 1945 that a visiting player had done that at Yankee Stadium.
It almost never happened. In the second inning, Hicks was running out an infield single when he stepped on Guerrero’s exposed hand. Guerrero was rushed back to the Blue Jays dugout, and two stitches were applied to his bleeding hand. He brushed off any suggestion that he leave the game and said afterward it didn’t affect him at the plate. That is an understatement.
“It feels good. The work I put in every day just to help my teammates, my team to win every day, it feels good. I’m very comfortable right now,”
Guerrero even played a role in the last out of the game, snaring a liner from Josh Donaldson to secure the Blue Jays’ victory and send the Bronx faithful home empty-handed.
A century ago, the original Yankee Stadium opened with a home run from Ruth, earning the moniker “The House that Ruth Built.” That iconic landmark is now gone, replaced by a park and public baseball field. But not even Ruth did there what Guerrero pulled off just across the street on Wednesday.
It may be the House That Ruth Built, but on Wednesday, it belonged to Guerrero and the Blue Jays.