Before taking a question in his postgame press conference on Friday, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone blurted out, “He’s amazing.”
Boone’s spontaneous remark was in reference to Aaron Judge, whose latest dynamic performance gave him 41 homers and 89 RBIs on the season.
After fans cheer for former Yankees on Saturday during Old-Timers’ Day, Judge gets another chance at continuing his memorable season when New York plays host to the Kansas City Royals.
Judge has driven in seven of New York’s 12 runs in the four-game series. He hit a game-ending homer off Scott Barlow to give the Yankees a 1-0 win on Thursday, then reached 40 homers with a two-run drive in the third inning and hit a grand slam to cap an eight-run eighth in New York’s 11-5 win on Friday.
“It’s just a steady dose of amazingness every day,” New York pitcher Gerrit Cole said.
Besides leading the Yankees to their second straight win following a stretch of five losses in seven games, Judge achieved a number of things on Friday.
He set a team record with his ninth multi-homer game this season, became the second Yankee to hit at least 41 homers through his team’s first 101 games, joining Babe Ruth in 1921 and 1928, and also joined Ruth and Roger Maris as the third Yankee to reach 40 homers before August.
Judge is one shy of 200 career home runs and has slugged 11 in his past 13 games. He has three multi-homer games in his past 11 contests and is hitting .476 (20-for-42) with 10 homers and 23 RBIs in that span.
“Just a special player doing really amazing things,” Boone said.
The Royals have been outscored 22-5 during their four-game losing streak, with their only runs in the skid coming in a five-run fifth on Friday. Whit Merrifield hit a two-run single and Salvador Perez socked a three-run homer in his first game back after missing five weeks due to a thumb injury.
Those hits were undone by a rough eighth inning that featured the Royals allowing two infield hits and an error by rookie shortstop Maikel Garcia on a potential double-play ball before Judge eventually connected on a changeup by Jackson Kowar.
“That’s a tough one to say the least,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. “We made some mistakes in the eighth, and those mistakes are always going to haunt you against a good team.”
Nestor Cortes (8-3, 2.48 ERA) can join Cole and Jameson Taillon as New York’s third nine-game winner when he pitches Saturday. Cortes is coming off his fifth scoreless start of the season as he allowed six hits in six innings of a 6-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
The All-Star left-hander has allowed two runs or fewer in 13 of his 18 starts. During a 12-2 win in Kansas City on April 29, he gave up two runs (one earned) on eight hits in five innings. Cortes is 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Royals.
Kansas City’s Jonathan Heasley (1-5, 5.50 ERA) will return from the injured list on Saturday for his first start since July 9 and his first career appearance against New York. He has been sidelined since July 10 due to a shoulder injury.
Since his only win on June 10, Heasley is 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA in his past five starts.
–Field Level Media