Aaron Judge came on like a hurricane — hitting a 3-run homer, a 2-run homer, and a solo homer — in succession — and threw in a double his first time up as well to go 4-4 and blast the Yankees to a 7-1 win over Arizona on a windy Friday night at Yankee Stadium, the front end of hurricane Ophelia approaching.
Judge drove in 6 of the 7 Yankee runs and overshadowed a tremendous start by Luke Weaver, who pitched shutout ball into the 6th, not to mention another terrific 3+ inning relief performance by Jhony Brito.
“Four great swings,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards. “And the double to start things — the hustle double that he smokes in the hole there. Just really good to see him get off that level of swing at bat after at bat. You’re watching a great player. That’s greatness.”
Judge is now 3rd in the American League with 35 homeruns, despite missing 2 months — 54 games or exactly 1/3 the season.
NY improves to 78-76, 7 behind the Wild Card with 8 games to go. They are now 2 games ahead of Boston, in 4th in the AL East. Arizona drops to 81-73, leading one of the Wild Card positions in the West.
1. Judge Like a Hurricane
NY Yankees Stats pointed out that Judge joined Yankees with multiple three-homer games in career:
Katie Sharp noted that Judge became “the first player in Yankees history with 2 3-HR games in a season.”
Judge Hustle Double
Judge HR #1 Makes It 3-0
Oswaldo Cabrera led off the bottom of the 3rd with a single, and next batter Oswald Peraza got on due to an error by Pfaadt. Estevan Florial struck out but Aaron Judge launched one 420 feet to right centerfield for a 3-0 Yankee lead.
Hidden Story: Florial
It was 3rd time through the lineup for the Yankees in the 5th — 3rd time seeing Pfaadt — and they stormed him.
Peraza led off with a double, Estevan Florial hit a rocket to left that the wind appeared to push back into the stadium — it banged off the wall for a double and 4-0 Yankee lead. John Sterling called it as a homerun for a moment, as the Arizona leftfielder Joc Peterson looked up in resignation. “John look at the flag — I think the wind brought that ball back,” noted Suzyn Waldman.
Judge HR #2 Makes it 6-0
Judge then ripped a 379-foot homer to right center and it was NY 6 Arizona 0.
Judge HR #3 Makes it 7-0
Next time up for Judge was the 7th. Estevan Florial began the inning with a sky high fly to left in the wind that Arizona 3rd baseman Jace Peterson and leftfielder Tommy Phan converged on — but Peterson dropped it with his glove in fair territory. It was ruled fair and Florial scampered into 2nd, then saw nobody covering 3rd so raced to the bag on the broken play, but catcher Gabriel Moreno appeared out of nowhere and applied a tag to Florial, out at 3rd.
Judge then belted homer #3 on the night to right, and it was Yankees 7 Diamondbacks 0.
“It’s all about getting into a good count,” said Judge afterwards. “All those at bats I was getting into a good count; laid off some tough pitches. When you do that as an offense like we did tonite, good things are going to happen.”
“Florial fights off a tough pitch,” added Judge. “Falls in there. Tries to go to 3. Playing aggressive which I love. When you do stuff like that you’re putting pressure on the defense, and good things are going to happen.”
2. Weaver Fantastic Surprise!
The overshadowed but more surprising story was that of Luke Weaver, who was surprisingly picked up by the Yanks off the trash heap 2 weeks ago, and was surprisingly thrust into the starting rotation, and has surprisingly pitched 2 good ballgames — this second one even better than the first!
Unlike his first start, where he was BOMBED in the 1st and 2nd but somehow managed to escape to pitch 4 solid innings, this time he pitched a shutout 1st inning, and a shutout 2nd inning, and a shutout 3rd inning! And then 3 runs arrived courtesy Judge’s 1st homer in the bottom of the 3rd and Weaver was sitting on a 3-0 lead!
So Weaver pitched a shutout 4th, and a shut out 5th, and went into the 6th with a 6-0 lead, courtesy an RBI double by Florial and Judge’s 2nd homer!
Finally in the 6th Arizona got to Weaver — a leadoff single and a 1-out single put 2 runners on, and in came Jhony Brito.
Weaver’s final line: 5.1 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 3 K’s, 0 walks. Unbelievable. Or at least, really surprising.
3. Brito (and Peraza) to the Rescue
Brito relieved Weaver with 1st and 2nd, 1 out, and got Tommy Phan to fly out for the 2nd out. Christian Walker then hit a chopper down 3rd that Oswald Peraza charged and made a barehand catch and throw on to nab Walker for out #3. Tremendous defensive play.
Brito took it from there — pitching a shutout 7th and 8th, and allowing a solo homer to Walker with 1 out in the 9th, but getting the last 2 batters for the old ballgame.
- Aaron Judge is now slashing 35-70-.267 (.401 OBP) with a 1.011 OPS despite missing exactly 1/3 of the season (54 games) with the toe injury, leaving many Yankee fans on twitter to wonder what NY would’ve done this year if he hadn’t missed that time.
- Estevan Florial, centerfielder, batted leadoff and went 2-5 with the 2 doubles He is now slashing 0-6-.229 (.357 OBP).
- Oswald Peraza made several nifty plays at 3rd, not just the one mentioned above. He also went 2-4 and is slashing 1-12-.204 (.282 OBP), a significant improvement since late August when he was batting .150.