BALTIMORE — The sound that echoed through Camden Yards and back to the Bronx Tuesday night was that of the cash register adding quickly to Aaron Judge’s price tag. The Yankees slugger hammered two home runs — which would have been three before the left field wall at Camden Yards was moved back — in a 4-for-5 night, finishing a triple shy of the cycle and carrying the Bombers to a 5-4 win over the Orioles.
“Wow, he got almost three, but build-your-own-park got him there in left (field),” Aaron Boone said of Judge. “Special night. On the attack early in the counts too and got some pitches and left no doubt with some balls. So great night for him.”
And that means a great night for the Yankees (27-9), who have won three straight games, eight of their last nine and 20 of their last 23. They maintained the best record in baseball and have guaranteed at least a split of this four-game series. The Orioles (14-23) are the only team to take a series from the Yankees this season. Baltimore won two of three over the Bombers here at Camden Yards last month.
Maybe it’s the scheduled rest — Judge sat out Monday night’s game as part of a prescribed rest program — or the fact he is now playing for a contract after he and the Yankees failed to reach an agreement for this season or a multi-year extension to prevent him from becoming a free agent at the end of the year. Whatever the motivation, Judge is absolutely crushing it this season.
Judge had a ridiculous double off the left field wall in the first inning, 399 feet off the new fence in left, which was moved back 26.5 feet and raised to 13 feet this past winter.
“I knew I didn’t have a chance, but I was hoping for good old time sakes, it might get out,” Judge said with a laugh. “I learned my lesson and started to go to right field after that.”
In his next at-bat, Judge went 410 feet to right-center for his major-league leading 13th homer of the season. In his next at-bat, he went to dead-center field for his 14th of the season.
“We’re getting there. Thinking back, that at-bat against (Dillon) Tate, I swung at some bad pitches, missing a good changeup he threw me. We’re still working on it,” Judge said of his start to the season. “We have a good ballclub here and like I said, a different guy every night, you know, picking up the team.”
Tuesday night it was Judge.
It was the 19th time in his career that Judge has hit two homers in a game, the sixth time in his career that he has done it against the Orioles and the third time this season. Two of those have come a day after Judge has been given a day off to rest.
Judge joked to the YES Network he was mad he missed Monday night’s game.
“He got a little rest,” Boone said. “He always wants to be in there but it was good to see him set the tone for us obviously offensively tonight. He’s his, his special player off to a really special start to the season.”
Judge has hit five home runs in his last seven games, 10 in his las16. He has hit 30 career home runs against the Orioles, the most against any opponent. He was the first player in the majors to hit double-digit home runs this season and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first Yankee to reach the 10-homer mark first in a season since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
Tuesday night, he also doubled in the seventh.
Of his 41 hits this season, 21 have gone for extra bases. He has had multiple hits in four of his last seven games and 13 total games this season.
Jameson Taillon went five innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He struck out two and walked one in his third start against the Orioles this season. He got five swings and misses against his four-seam fastball and three on his slider. Michael King struck out six of nine in three perfect innings of relief.
After getting two outs, Aroldis Chapman gave up singles to Tyler Nevin and Robinson Chirinos. Ryan McKenna’s fly ball dropped in front of Joey Gallo for a double, allowing the fourth run to score and putting the winning run on second base, before getting Cedric Mullins to pop out in foul territory. Chapman got his ninth save.
The Yankees pitchers have the luxury of watching Judge and knowing they don’t have to face him.
“I really don’t know. He can hit breaking balls, he can hit fastballs all over the zone. He can do damage on just about everything,” Taillon said of how hard it would be to face Judge right now. “He has an extremely balanced swing and he does it off great pitching too, it’s not like he’s feasting off of Triple-A arms. He can do it against anybody.”