If a byproduct of that quest is an AL Rookie of the Year Award, well, the 23-year-old will savor the accomplishment during the offseason.
Andujar homered and had four RBI, J.A. Happ pitched six sharp innings to win his fifth straight start with the Yankees and New York breezed to a 10-3 rout of the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday in the opener of a split doubleheader.
After driving in a first-inning run with a groundout, Andujar put the Yankees up 5-2 in the third with a three-run shot off Jimmy Yacabonis (0-2).
With his 42nd multihit game, Andujar raised his batting average since the All-Star break to .344. He leads all AL rookies in hitting (.298), RBI (70) and is second in home runs (21).
"He's a special kind of talent," Happ said. "The production has been huge for us."
Teammate Aaron Judge was a unanimous pick as rookie of the year in 2017, and Andujar just might make it two in a row for New York.
"At the end of it all, if it happens, it happens," Andujar said through an interpreter. "We are trying accomplish something bigger here than individual awards."
Giancarlo Stanton just missed joining the long-ball party. Seeking his 33rd homer of the season, Stanton was poised to break into a trot around the bases when his sixth-inning drive to center field ended up in the glove of a leaping Cedric Mullins , who reached over the 7-foot wall and snagged the ball in the webbing.
Happ (15-6) allowed two runs and five hits with nine strikeouts. Since coming from Toronto in a July 26 trade, the right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA.
The 35-year-old Happ is the first player to win his first five starts with the Yankees since Rob Gardner from 1970-72.
"He's been great for us," Hicks said. "I love that he is here on our team and helping us get where we want to be."
Luis Cessa worked the final three innings for his first major league save.
Renato Nunez had three hits and two RBI for the Orioles, who lost their sixth straight. It's the seventh time this season that Baltimore has been mired in a skid of at least six games.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has seen plenty of Happ over the years, and the view never gets better from the opposing dugout.
"That's what he's done for a long time," Showalter said. "Real late-life fastball, works on both sides of the plate. The best pitch in baseball is still a located fastball, especially the one he has."
After Nunez singled in two runs for a 2-1 lead, Andujar put the Yankees ahead for good with his 21st home run. Ten of those drives have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead.
"He's getting more and more comfortable. He's good at having a plan," manager Aaron Boone said. "I think he has a really good idea of what teams are doing to him and what pitchers are doing to him. So, he'll go up there and make certain adjustments."
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez (groin strain) went 0 for 3 with a walk for the Gulf Coast League Yankees on Saturday. "I'm excited for him to start his trek back up," Boone said. If all goes well, Sanchez will join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start a minor league rehab assignment early next week. He has been out since July 24.
Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb has allowed seven runs in his last five starts while coping with a lingering blister. Showalter lauded trainer Brian Ebel and his staff, noting, "It's been impressive to watch how they handle it."
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-8, 5.34 ERA) was to pitch in Game 2, his first start since allowing seven runs in a loss to Baltimore on Aug. 1.
Orioles: Andrew Cashner (4-11, 4.84 ERA) makes his fourth start against the Yankees this season. Thus far, he's 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports