BALTIMORE — Miguel Andujar has rushed by teammate Gleyber Torres in the battle for American League Rookie of the Year and he helped his cause again Saturday, when his three-run blast in the third inning gave the Yankees a lead over the Orioles they wouldn’t give up.
Despite his increasingly gaudy numbers, Andujar insisted his focus remained on something other than personal hardware.
“There are more important things right now overall for us,’’ Andujar said through an interpreter after a 10-3 win in the first game of . “It’s very important to win games. We have a bigger goal in mind. … At the end of it all, if it happens, it happens. We’re trying to accomplish something bigger than an individual award.”
And if they do make it to the playoffs and another run in the postseason, Andujar will have played a major role.
With injuries to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez — and more recently Didi Gregorius — robbing Andujar of protection in the Yankees’ lineup, the rookie has continued to thrive.
“Obviously, with us being banged up, he’s gone right into the middle of that lineup,’’ Aaron Boone said.
Through it all, he has been able to make the adjustments necessary to produce offensively — impressing teammates who have been around significantly longer than Andujar.
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“Just his approach,’’ said Aaron Hicks when asked about what impressed him about Andujar, who had his third straight multi-hit game in a 5-1 win over the Orioles in Game 2.
“He’s able to make adjustments day-in and day-out, every single day. It’s kind of a veteran approach and it’s awesome to see on a daily basis — or he’s just an insanely good hitter. Probably both.”
There’s more and more evidence that it is a combination.
Andujar knocked in a run in the first, when he grounded to short with Giancarlo Stanton on third and one out. With two on and one out in the third, Andujar belted his 21st homer of the year to center that made it 5-2 and put J.A. Happ in position to win another game as a Yankee.
“He’s a special talent,” Happ said.
Of Andujar’s 21 homers, 10 of them have tied the game or put the Yankees ahead.
“It’s a matter of keeping your head in the game, seeing the pitcher and understanding what he’s trying to do out there,’’ Andujar said. “I’ve been getting good results. … I always have a plan in mind. It’s a matter of executing that plan.”
And Boone doesn’t expect that to change.
“I think we’ll see over time the power continue to come, but he’s the total package, man, as a hitter,’’ the manager said. “He’s really talented. He’s got all the skill-sets to be a great hitter, but he’s also got a good head on his shoulders.”
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