Aaron Judge, New York Yankees, ‘World’s Best Team’, End of Hitless Drought, Rally for Victory

NEW YORK — Aaron Judge walked into the stands and handed his bat to Spike Lee, a Yankees fan known for scripting Hollywood dramas.

This weekend’s Astros-Yankees series had all the ups, downs and twists endings the audience could handle. And when baseball season arrives, bet that critics will take a close look at Judge’s lead role.

“I told him to stop taking him for granted,” said manager Aaron Boone.

Judge hit a three-run home run in the 10th inning for his second walk-off hit against the Astros in four days, and New York recovered after being nearly without a hit for its second straight game and Houston 6-3 on Sunday defeated.

“These guys never waver,” Judge said. “They stick to their plan, stick to their approach and keep grinding it out. And then Big G hit one of about 120 in the middle, so it was all good.”

Giancarlo Stanton ended a historic hitless drought for New York with an one-out, 111 mph homer in the seventh inning, and DJ LeMahieu followed with a two-run tying drive in the eighth as New York split a four-game run. between the AL’s top teams.

“Ended Judge 2, Us 2,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker.

After Michael King left the bases loaded in the 10th, Isiah Kiner-Falefa dropped a bunt with two strikeouts, bringing automatic runner Aaron Hicks to third base. Righthander Seth Martinez walked pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter intentionally and struckout LeMahieu, resulting in a two-out confrontation with the Judge.

As on Thursday, when he broke a tie of 6 with a single in the ninth, Judge lifted the Major League-leading Yankees. His 112 mph rocket left-center on a slider landed in the visiting bullpen for his 28th big league home run.

“What amazed me was how easily he swung,” Boone said. “It’s like he’s just trying to touch the ball.”

With their 10th walkoff win this year — and Judge’s third in the stroke — the Yankees improved to 53-20 to equal the third-best 73-game start in the majors since 1930, trailing only the Mariners. from 2001 and the Yankees from 1998.

It stands 24-1 as Judge and Stanton homerun the same game, including 8-0 this season.

“We have the best team in the world,” Judge said.

But for most of the weekend, they barely struck like a juggernaut. Jose Urquidy was eight outs from Houston’s second straight no-hitter before Stanton made contact, narrowing the Astros’ lead to 3-1. The Yankees were 0 to 52 since the eighth inning of a 3-1 loss Friday night – a stretch that included a combined no-hitter by Cristian Javier, Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly on Saturday.

“You could tell they were coming at us with everything they had,” LeMahieu said.

New York’s hitless 16 1/3 inning drought was the longest on any team since 1961, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. were hit by the St. Louis Browns — the second jewel came in the second game of a doubleheader.

King (5-1) had to wriggle out of trouble in the 10th after the New York defense slipped twice. Shortstop Kiner-Falefa started a grounder by Jose Altuve and catcher Jose Trevino’s attempt to eliminate Jason Castro at second base failed when Castro took third place.

King walked Alex Bregman with one out to load the bases, then Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel were eliminated. King reached 100 mph for the first time in his career on the at bat against Bregman.

The Astros have become as hated as the rival Red Sox in the Bronx after knocking out New York three times in the post-season since 2015, including during their scandal-ridden 2017 title run in the afternoon — the biggest cheers came early. a cloud that briefly subdued the scorching midday sun.

Altuve silenced his assailants by hammering on Nestor Cortes’ first delivery, matching ex-teammate George Springer for the Major League lead with seven leadoff home runs. Mauricio Dubon added a two-run single in the fourth.

Altuve also walked twice and stole two bases.

Houston-star Michael Brantley was relieved in the eighth inning due to right shoulder discomfort. The five-time All-Star was 0 for 3 and his batting average dropped to .288.

The Astros also were without batter Yordan Alvarez, who was kept out of the lineup with an ongoing hand problem. He pinch-hit against Clay Holmes in the ninth inning and was walked intentionally.

Gleyber Torres of the Yankees stranded on third base in the ninth when he twisted his right ankle and was easily cleared as he squirmed in the mud. Boone said he has a minor sprain.

“I don’t expect it to be serious,” Boone said.

With a day off on Monday, Torres could be back in the lineup on Tuesday, when the Yankees open a series against the Oakland Athletics.

Stanek extended his AL-best scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings. Martinez (0-1) had the second-longest run with 17 2/3 innings prior to Judge’s attack, bringing Houston in with a Major League-best 2.63 ERA.

Baker said he wasn’t considering letting Judge walk, who had Anthony hit Rizzo behind him. He also said that Pressly and Neris were unavailable after Saturday’s pitching.

Urquidy gave up one basehit over seven innings. He walked three and struckout three batters on 98 pitches.

“That’s the best game he’s thrown,” Baker said.

Plate umpire Mike Muchlinski took a foul tip off his mask in the first inning and staggered back before being grabbed by Yankees catcher Jose Trevino. Muchlinski consulted with a trainer and the rest of the umpiring crew before going behind the plate. The game ended with three umpires.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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