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Rookie Oswaldo Cabrera’s clutch homer propels Yankees

Wherever Oswaldo Cabrera has played recently — left field on Saturday, right field Friday, first base last week — the do-everything rookie has hit.

Cabrera’s surge continued Saturday with a fourth-inning, go-ahead, two-run home run in the Yankees’ 7-5 victory over the Red Sox in The Bronx, as he strengthened his case to be a postseason contributor.

With one swing, Cabrera turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead the Yankees did not relinquish. Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta left a slider over the plate, and Cabrera turned on it and sent the offering an estimated 376 feet into the right-field seats. He watched it go and gestured to the Yankees’ dugout before beginning his trip around the bases following his third dinger in his past six games.

“Real mature, has a real good understanding of the game. He’s not afraid,” manager Aaron Boone said after Cabrera’s 33rd major league game. “He likes the competition of it all.”

Oswaldo Cabrera belts a two-run homer in the fourth of the Yankees' 7-5 win over the Red Sox.
Oswaldo Cabrera belts a two-run homer in the fourth of the Yankees’ 7-5 win over the Red Sox.
Robert Sabo

In Cabrera’s first 21 games, the 23-year-old went 14-for-75 (.187) without a home run. In Cabrera’s past 12 games — since Sept. 10 — the switch-hitter has gone 13-for-42 (.310) with all four of his big league home runs.

Cabrera, who also walked during a 1-for-3 afternoon, started in left field, where he is competing with Aaron Hicks for playing time. Hicks has struggled throughout this season, though he has shown recent life, going 7-for-15 with a pair of homers in his past five games and contributed a pinch-hit walk Saturday.

Over the final days of the season, there may be a competition to determine who will be the Yankees’ starting left fielder in the postseason.

“We’ll see,” Boone said before the game about his left field dynamic. “It’ll kind of remain fluid each and every day.”

Cabrera’s glove has opened this door for him. The utility man typically played the infield with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, getting most of his starts at second base and shortstop.

With the Yankees, however, Cabrera has seen time everywhere but catcher, pitcher and center field.

“Keep in mind, he’s a really good infielder who’s playing the outfield right now,” Boone said of Cabrera, who has nine RBIs in his past six games. “His makeup, it’s been one of his calling cards throughout his minor league career.

“I think his makeup has served him well to handle anything we’ve thrown at him.”

— Additional reporting by Greg Joyce

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