Casey Stevenson sure knows how to make a first impression.
The Yankees prospect was notified Friday night that he was being promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Twenty-four hours later, he was playing the role of hero for his new team.
Stevenson smacked his second homer of the game, a two-run shot in the bottom of the 11th inning, to give the RailRiders a 6-4 victory over Norfolk in his Triple-A debut on Saturday.
The blast off left-handed reliever Andy Loomis ended the opener of a doubleheader that already was four innings beyond its scheduled ending.
"It's awesome," said the California native, who finished 3-for-5. "It's a great feeling to be able to have a day like that on the first day, especially with the game later. I'm sure I'll come down a little bit and have to get back up for that second game, but right now, I'm still pretty amped up."
Amazingly, it wasn't Stevenson's first walk-off homer in a debut this season.
He'd struggled through 26 games with Double-A Trenton, producing a .256/.311/.317 slash line that was punctuated by an 0-for-4, three-strikeout contest on May 22. Two days later, he was back at Class A Advanced Tampa, where he was hitless in his first three plate appearances. Then he connected for a game-winning three-run homer in the ninth to beat Dunedin, 4-3.
All in all, Stevenson has four homers across three levels this season. Three have come in his first game with new teams and two have been walk-offs.
"Weird coincidence, I guess," he said.
If that wasn't enough to foretell Saturday's theatrics, the wind might have done the trick.
It's customary for players arriving in a unfamiliar place to ask about the particulars of the new ballpark. Perhaps nowhere is that more true than at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's PNC Field, which re-opened this season after undergoing extensive renovations. So when the questions came from Stevenson on Saturday morning, the answers he received proved advantageous.
"I actually heard from one of the guys. I said, 'How does the ball carry here?'" said the RailRiders' newest infielder. "And he said, 'Yeah, it carries OK to right.' It was today and one of the guys was saying this was one of the first days it was blowing to right here at home, so I got lucky with that too, I guess."
That said, Stevenson had a chance to impress his new teammates earlier Saturday but couldn't come through. Dan Johnson walked against Loomis to start the ninth and Cody Grice reached when the Norfolk reliever committed a throwing error on his bunt attempt. Stevenson tried to put down another bunt but fouled out to third baseman Brandon Waring.
Stevenson didn't make the same mistake in the 11th, sending an 0-1 off-speed offering over the wall in right.
"It's crazy," said the 25-year-old, who was part of a flurry of 20 transactions -- promotions, signings, trips to the disabled list -- involving the RailRiders over a two-day stretch. "It's kinda just setting in now, kind of an unreal feeling, especially now after messing up that bunt in ninth, popping it up to third. I was a little down about that. Luckily, I got a good pitch to hit that last at-bat and we were still able to win."
Pennsylvania native Russ Canzler sent the game to extra innings with a three-run homer in the seventh for the Tides. The former International League MVP finished 2-for-5.