NEW YORK -- Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees evened their three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at a game apiece with a come from behind win (NYY 7, OAK 5). The A's won Friday's opener thanks to Tony Kemp's late home run (OAK 5, NYY 3).
There was a strange -- and briefly scary -- moment in the second inning Saturday. Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela broke his bat on a swing, and a splinter went into his eye. The A's turned the ground ball into a double play and initially it appeared Urshela simply did run hard out of the box. Then it became clear he was hurt.
"I saw just the piece of wood come into my eye," Urshela said after the game, clarifying the splinter only bounced into his eye and did not stick in. "I didn't even see the ball and where I was running. Just my eye, started to feel like a little pain. Thank God (I was OK)."
"Broken bat. It went up into his eye," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said following the game. "Obvious a scary moment there. They got with him underneath -- whether it was drops or whatever -- got the little fraying out. Obviously one of those scary situations initially, but he was OK."
Boone added he had bench players Chris Gittens and Tyler Wade get loose just in case Urshela had to exit the game, but he was able to get his eye cleaned out. "Right away he went down with the trainers and they were kind looking at everything ... (When) I went down at the end of the inning, he was OK," Boone said.
The Yankees are fortunate Urshela remained in the game too. In his first at-bat after the splinter incident, he got New York on the board with an RBI single back up in the middle. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Urshela gave the Yankees their first lead of the afternoon with a home run into Monument Park.
"(Jesús) Luzardo is a pitcher who throw really hard," Urshela said about the homer. "I was just trying to stay short and swing at a ball in the zone."
New York erased a 4-1 deficit with a Gary Sánchez home run in the sixth inning and run-scoring singles by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh. Urshela gave the Yankees the lead in the eighth, and the Yankees won the battle of the Chapmans (Aroldis vs. Matt) to record the final out and secure their fourth win in the last five games.
"Gio's always been a guy -- since we've had him -- in the biggest spots you love him up there," Boone said "... He kinda seems to go along and he surprises you with how good his power is, to straight away center field especially. Really good player who likes being in the moment when the game is on the line."
The Yankees have been one of the lowest scoring teams in baseball this season and they're currently without their starting first baseman (Luke Voit) and starting center fielder (Aaron Hicks). Losing Urshela, their starting third baseman, for any length of time would have taken another bite out of an offense that is already lacking.
Urshela, 29, went into Saturday's game hitting .268/.312/.433 with eight home runs in 61 games. He owns a .299/.346/.498 batting line in parts of three seasons with the Yankees.