On his best days and on days that are a struggle, Angelo Gumbs is prepared to work. That makes performances like Thursday's even sweeter when they come along.
The Yankees infield prospect Gumbs blasted two home runs and drove in four, season highs in both categories, as Class A Advanced Tampa held off a late Brevard County rally for a 6-4 win at Steinbrenner Field.
Ranked New York's No. 7 prospect going into the 2013 season, Gumbs slumped to a .213 average and a .593 OPS in 91 games between Class A Charleston and Tampa. Thursday night, he looked more like the player the Yankees were hoping for when they selected him in the second round of the 2010 Draft.
Gumbs gave Tampa the lead by belting a two-out, two-run jack in the second inning, his first blast since homering on back-to-back days on July 16-17. He followed that with a sacrifice fly for the second run of the Yankees' fourth.
"There were a couple of tough calls [umpire Matt Winter] made," Gumbs said of his second trip to the plate. "I felt like the count should've been 3-0, but instead it was 1-2. Although that happened, I knew I couldn't let it affect my at-bat. So I just stayed looking for a fastball out over the plate to try and drive it deep and get the run in. It happened to work out that way."
After grounding out sharply in the sixth, the second baseman added his second home run, a leadoff shot in the eighth.
"I just felt good at the plate," he said. "No matter what the count was, no matter what the situation was, I was just focused on getting a good pitch and putting the best swing I can on it.
"I don't think there was an at-bat tonight when I didn't hit the ball hard. In my third at-bat, I hit a bullet to the third baseman. [Brandon Macias] dove, grabbed it, threw it to first, so I had to tip my hat to him even though I was a little hurt about it," he added with a laugh.
The multi-hit night marked Gumbs' third such performance in his last eight games. The 21-year-old also collected his first multi-homer game since he played for short-season Staten Island. On June 29, 2011, he went yard twice against Aberdeen.
"He's still trying to grow as a hitter and try to figure himself out and find out what works for him, what approach works for him, what routines work for him," Tampa hitting coach P.J. Pilittere said. "Tonight was a bit of a mini-accumulation of all the work that he's put in. It was really exciting to see him go out there, hit four balls on the button tonight and get some results, because he definitely has been putting in the work."
While Gumbs spearheaded the Tampa attack at the plate, 19-year-old lefty Ian Clarkin (1-0) delivered five quality innings in his first Florida State League start. The 33rd overall pick in the 2013 Draft allowed one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out four.
"He was making pitches when it mattered," Gumbs said. "Sure, he would fall behind a few batters, but he eventually locked it in. He competed. The biggest thing for him is not trying to be perfect. Just be the best that you can be. We've got eight other guys out there that are trying to help you get this out. He pitched a good, healthy five innings to get us where we needed to be."
The Manatees rallied to close their deficit to two runs in the ninth, but Alex Smith got the final two outs to pick up his second save.