Judge’s 13th home run helps Yanks rally past Jays
NEW YORK — Aaron Judge hit another long drive for his major league-leading 13th home run, singled to start the go-ahead rally and had the first three-hit game of his big league career, helping the New York Yankees rally from an early deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-6, in American League baseball action Wednesday night.
Matt Holliday hit his 300th home run, a three-run shot in the first, and pinch-hitter Didi Gregorius drove in the go-ahead run in a three-run seventh inning with a comebacker that could have been an inning-ending double play but instead bounced off the glove of reliever Joe Biagini for an infield single.
Steve Pearce’s third homer in two days, a three-run shot, helped Toronto take a 4-0 lead against CC Sabathia after 16 pitches. The Blue Jays led 6-3 before Judge’s two-run homer in the third, a 435-foot drive into the netting above Monument Park behind the centrefield wall.
Selected the AL Rookie of the Month for April, Judge raised his average to .330 and has six homers in his last six games for the AL East leaders.
He also has hit the second-most home runs through 26 games in Yankees history, one behind Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
Judge sparked the seventh-inning burst with a one-out single against Biagini (0-1), who had struck out his first five batters. Judge took third on Chase Headley’s double and scored the tying run on Chris Carter’s broken-bat single to short left over a drawn-in infield.
Tyler Clippard (1-1) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and Aroldis Chapman got three outs for his sixth save.
Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman left after three innings because of what appeared to be tightness in his right armpit. He allowed five runs and six hits in his shortest start since the Chicago White Sox chased him after two outs on Aug. 15, 2014.
Last in the AL East at 9-19, Toronto already is missing starting pitchers Aaron Sanchez (split finger nail) and J.A. Happ (elbow soreness). Sabathia gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks in four-plus innings. His ERA has risen from 2.25 to 5.45 in his last three outings.
Both teams were unhappy with the wide strike zone of plate umpire Bill Welke. Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and Holliday took called third strikes from Biagini in the sixth, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected for arguing a called strike to Starlin Castro leading off the seventh. After he was called out, Gardner took out his frustration by repeatedly slamming his bat against a blue recycling container in the Yankees dugout.
Girardi’s ejection was his 36th, including 33 as a manager. Thirty-one of them have come while managing New York.
Gardner walked on a close 3-2 pitch from Joe Smith in the seventh, and Hicks followed with a walk on a 3-1 offering that forced in a run and gave the Yankees an 8-6 lead.
Rookie Kyle Higashioka took a called third strike from Biagini in the fifth, stranding the bases loaded. Higashioka was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, dropping him to 0 for 18 in the big leagues, and he likely will be sent to the minors later this week when starting catcher Gary Sanchez comes off the disabled list.