NEW YORK — If there’s one player who can carry an entire team on his shoulders despite decades of bad skids, it’s Aaron Judge.
With the Yankees’ first 10-game losing streak since 1913 looking dangerously early, the Yankees captain hit three home runs in a game for the first time in his career. New York won 9-1 The Nationals are over on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Hours earlier, general manager Brian Cashman agreed This season was a “disaster.”Yankees still have something to play for: “I’m sure we’ll continue to find ways to do everything we can to compete.”
No one else could do that except Judge, who was retained in December on a $360 million, nine-year contract.
Judge, New York’s designated hitter on Wednesday, hit a home run in his first two plate appearances (a solo shot in the first inning and a grand slam in the second) and then added a no-hitter in the seventh.
“What a night in ’99,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s special. Obviously, we saw what he did last year, he’s basically doing the same thing, he just missed a big role. He’s a special player. What he does in any situation is extraordinary.”
“Anyone can be a spark, but you start at the top.”
Judge’s first home run snapped a streak of 61 consecutive innings in which the Yankees did not lead the scoring. His second, fifth career Grand Slam, ensured that all historic losses would be broken. Signed the 34th challenger for the only player in franchise history with three homers; He is the 25th player in a Yankees uniform and the first since Anthony Rizzo on April 26, 2022.
When Judge walked back to the dugout after his last home run, there was one person he wanted to see. Catcher Kyle Higashioka hit a three-homer game on September 16, 2020, and has made a habit of mocking Judge for his inability to do so.
“Throughout the years, I’ve had two tournaments and couldn’t get a third. He always reminded me, ‘Hey, one of these days, kid, you’re going to join my club, you’re going to be. In an exclusive club,'” Judge recalled with a smile.
How did Higashioka, who rose through the Yankees farm system with Judge, react when his friend crossed the line?
“I told him, ‘I remember my first time,'” Higashioka blurted out with a laugh. “But no, it was fantastic. We’ve been waiting for it for a long time. Rizzo and I joked with him a lot and now we have nothing against him.
Judge has 32 career multi-homer games, the fifth-most in franchise history, trailing only Babe Ruth (68), Mickey Mantle (46), Lou Gehrig (43) and Joe DiMaggio (35). Fittingly, Judge’s grand slam, a Statcast-projected distance that traveled 437 feet through center field, landed over the netting protecting Monument Park, where the license plates of four former Bronx Bombers are located.
The early Grand Slam also calmed the nerves of Dominican starter Luis Severino, who has struggled a lot this season but was fine on Wednesday. The right-hander went 6.2 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and winning his third game of the year.
“He’s a beast,” Severino said of Judge. “Every time he goes out, you know something good is going to happen.”
Judge’s fifth multi-homer game of the season, his first since spraining his right big toe at Dodger Stadium on June 3, changed the trajectory of his season — and NY.
So even Judge was in the cover circle when Jake Boyers was pulled as the last batter in the eighth — leaving him on the brink of a fifth plate appearance and a chance to send one more ball out of the park. – How the captain thought the Yankees “need a big win.”
“No, I wanted to finish the game,” Judge said, asking if he wanted that last twist. “It would have been nice, but we were in a big position there. Chevy (Luis Severino) had a great game, guys up and down the lineup took great turns. It was time to give the ball to Vandy (Peralta) and finish the game.”