First major league hit for Sherman's Gittens is a homer

Herald Democrat
New York Yankees first baseman Chris Gittens celebrates his home run during the fourth inning of a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo, N.Y. It was the Sherman native's first career major league hit.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sherman native and former Grayson College Viking Chris Gittens homered for his first major league hit, one of three solo homers by the New York Yankees in a 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Gittens was 0-for-1 when he stepped to the plate in the top of the fourth inning. The first baseman turned on an inside cutter from Hyun Jin Ryu and sent it 439 feet over the left-field fence and nearly onto Interstate 190, which runs behind Sahlen Field — one of the home parks for the Blue Jays this season because of COVID-19 protocols in Canada.

“I touched first base and my mind just went blank,” he said. “I didn’t care if it was a home run or a base hit, a little squibber. That was an amazing feeling.”

Gittens said he has the perfect place for the ball.

"I'm going to give it to my son," explained Gittens, whose son Tristan was born on May 22. "Whenever I get a chance to see him again, I'm gonna definitely put it in his little crib and let him have it."

Brett Gardner, in the on-deck circle, made a bold prediction as Gittens went to the plate.

“Gardy walked by me five seconds before, and said, ‘Skip, he’s going deep,’” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s had some competitive at-bats and to finally step on one and get us closer was big.”

Gittens had played in six games and gone 14 at-bats before earning that first hit.

He had walked twice, including during his major league debut against the Boston Red Sox on June 5, and as a pinch-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

Gittens became the 20th Yankee to homer for his first hit, joining a list that includes Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, Bobby Murcer, Alfonso Soriano and current teammates Aaron Judge and Kyle Higashioka, who was the last to do it during the 2018 season.

Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit double. He ripped a line drive inside the third-base line to score pinch-runner Tyler Wade from second as the Yankees completed a comeback from a 5-2 deficit and won for the third time in 10 games. The game was played before a Buffalo crowd of 7,145, mostly in support of New York.

“I was trying to be disciplined and hit a fastball,” Frazier said after coming through against reliever Jordan Romano. “I was a little bit early on it and just glad to keep it inside the base. The most important thing we’ve done as a team is stick together. We’re trying to go out and win ballgames and tonight it took everybody.”

Gary Sánchez socked a leadoff homer in the second and Gardner added a leadoff shot in the seventh that brought the Yankees to within 5-4.

Bo Bichette homered and had a two-run single for the Blue Jays. Santiago Espinal added three hits for Toronto, which has lost four of six.

Jonathan Loaisiga (6-2) worked one inning to earn the win. Tim Mayza (1-1) allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Andújar in the eighth and took the loss. Aroldis Chapman worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save, the final out a ground ball to Gittens he took to first base himself.

Ryu limited New York to five hits over six innings, but issued a season-high four walks.

Jordan Montgomery allowed five hits and four walks with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings for New York.

Bichette led off the third with his 14th homer to give Toronto a 2-1 lead but Gittens immediately answered in the next half-inning.

Toronto took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Joe Panik scored on a passed ball, and went up 5-2 on Bichette’s single.

DJ LeMahieu scored on Anthony Castro’s wild pitch in the seventh to tie the game at 5.

The Blue Jays threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs before Bichette flied out.