Streaking Yankees hold off White Sox 7-4
NEW YORK — Paul Konerko took pictures at ballparks during his final major-league season in 2014. Matt Davidson is collecting photos on his phone in what he hopes will be his first full big-league season.
‘‘I’m taking it all in because you really don’t know how long you will be here,’’ Davidson, 26, said.
Davidson played in his first game Monday at Yankee Stadium, going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and a sharp single to right in the New York Yankees’ 7-4 victory against the White Sox. His hit came before Yolmer Sanchez’s home run to left field pulled the Sox to 7-3 in the seventh inning.
The Yankees won their eighth game in a row, clobbering left-hander Derek Holland (1-2) for five runs in the third and seven runs (six earned) and 10 hits — including a 459-foot homer by Matt Holliday and another homer by Aaron Judge — in 4⅔ innings overall.
Holland’s latest bad outing against the Yankees — he’s 1-7 with a 6.97 ERA against them in his career — was more than the Sox’ lagging offense could overcome. Davidson (.355, three homers, 10 RBI) has been a bright spot behind Avisail Garcia (.447), but those two have been about it.
A touted prospect, Davidson always thought it would be this way when the Arizona Diamondbacks called him up to the majors for 31 games in 2013, so there wasn’t much satisfaction or sense of achievement at the time.
‘‘Every year, you move up — low-A, high-A, Double-A, Triple-A, Futures Game, big leagues,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘It happened so fast, I expected to be in the big leagues for a while. That didn’t happen.’’
After being traded to the Sox for closer Addison Reed in December 2013, Davidson struggled mightily at Class AAA Charlotte the next two seasons, batting .199 and .203 with a combined 355 strikeouts. There were enough flashes of power — 20 and 23 homers — to keep his hope alive, but his confidence was torn to shreds.
‘‘It was a hard couple of years,’’ Davidson said.
It’s early and the sample size is small, but it hasn’t looked as hard through the Sox’ first 12 games. He’s getting time at designated hitter and, more recently, at third base with Todd Frazier out.
This isn’t the same dark comedy Davidson scripted in 2016, when he finally cleared the Class AAA hurdle and was rewarded with a call-up after batting .268 with 10 homers in 75 games at Charlotte. In his first game with the Sox, he singled and broke a bone in his foot while rounding first base. But Davidson took it all in stride.
‘‘I never had that breakdown,’’ he said. ‘‘I had enough of my breakdowns in my two years at Charlotte. When I got hurt, I actually felt — I don’t want this to come across the wrong way — but I was proud of myself to get back to the big leagues. It almost was a calming feeling. I had enough confidence in myself and discipline to stick this thing out. I could have easily given up.’’
Sox hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger kept Davidson going by helping him get his timing right at the plate. He still is prone to strikeouts (16 in 33 plate appearances), but he did extend right-hander Adam Warren to 10 pitches in the ninth, and his power to the middle and opposite side of the field are impressive. He launched a 403-foot homer to right Friday in Minneapolis, and his first two homers carried 442 feet to left at Guaranteed Rate Field and 401 feet to right in Detroit.
‘‘When you know you can hit a ball out to the opposite field, it really takes away some of the stress level of getting to a ball on the outer third,’’ Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said.
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