NEW YORK – Aaron Judge makes home runs a routine.
Judge hit his Major League-leading 39th homerun for his third walk-off long ball this season, lifting the New York Yankees 1-0 over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday-evening.
New York was held to one hit before Judge drove a first-pitch fastball from Scott Barlow (4-3) into the Kansas City bullpen with one out in the ninth, a 431-foot drive.
“I just try not to think too much in those situations,” Judge said.
Sent the crowd of 43,836 into a frenzy, Judge joined Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees to hit three walk-off home runs in one season. Tommy Henrich had two in 1949 and another from Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe in the World Series opener.
“I just finished watching the video and it just leaked in the middle,” Barlow said. “It’s what hits him really well.”
Before May 10, Judge had never hit a homerun in the big league against Toronto’s Jordan Romano, and another one off Houston’s Seth Martinez on June 26. He became the first Yankee to have four walk-off hits of any kind in a single season since Claudell Washington in 1988.
“It never ceases to amaze me the season he is putting together. Barlow is obviously very tough,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. a lot of people can hit it like that and drive out like he did.”
Judge also stole his 10th base, a career high.
The Yankees hadn’t won a 1-0 game on a walk-off homer since Ruben Sierra connected through the Blue Jays’ Vinnie Chulk on April 22, 2004.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, New York’s 12 wins rank second in a team’s first 100 games, one less than the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Andrew Benintendi went 0 for 4 with one strikeout in his Yankees debut, facing Kansas City a day after the Royals shared him to New York for three minor league pitchers.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting some rest tonight, but it was crazy,” said Benintendi. “Meeting a lot of people, running everywhere, but I’m happy to be here and I wouldn’t change it.”
Clay Holmes (5-1) worked around two walks in a hitless ninth, combined on a four-hitter with Jameson Taillon and Ron Marinaccio.
New York has an AL-best record of 67-33, but had lost 10 of the previous 15 games, was swept this week in a two-game Subway Series in the NL East-leading Mets and lost both games to a doubleheader last week at AL West-leading Houston. The Yankees won for the second time with two hits, after beating the Chicago White Sox 5-1 on May 15.
Taillon hit a season-high eight and gave up four hits in six innings. Rookie Ron Marinaccio retired the side with two hitless innings and gave up no run in 19 innings. Batters are 1 for 57 against him in that period.
“Confidence has grown so I’m a little more confident about some of the decisions I make and the pitches I throw,” Marinaccio said.
Brady Singer struckout 10 and gave up one basehit in seven innings, a two-out single in the fourth by Gleyber Torres. Kansas City, last in the AL Central, dropped to 39-60.
“Brady responded as well as you could ever ask a pitcher for a foul like this,” said Royals manager Mike Matheny. “This is the best we’ve seen him.”
Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo heard loud cheers and struckout three for the 12th game this season. Gallo, who hit .159, also fanned out four times in a pair of games.
NOT SO FAST
With a 2-2 count in the sixth inning, Judge looked at ball three. MJ Melendez apparently thought the pitch was a strike and shot the ball emphatically to third base. Judge stayed in the penalty area while plate umpire Ramon De Jesus informed the rookie catcher that he was mistaken, but Singer waved at Judge as he waved goodbye on the next pitch.
BEAUTIFUL FOR BUCK
Before the game, the Yankees paid tribute to the late Buck O’Neil. Announcer Paul Olden read the many feats of the Kansas City legend, followed by a moving video that was shown on the midfield scoreboard. A two-time All-Star first baseman in the Negro Leagues and the first black coach in the National or American leagues, O’Neil played a key role in the Kansas City Monarchs Championships as a player and manager. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Royals: SS Maikel Garcia recalled from Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Yankees: Optional from Tim Locastro to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr. (hamstring) took punch training and fielded ground balls. He has missed four consecutive games. . C Salvador Perez (left thumb) continued his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Omaha and went 0 for 1 with a walk as designated batter. “He’s getting close,” Matheny said.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (strung right) could start throwing soon. A decision on whether or not he is ready is expected on Thursday or Friday, according to Boone. . INF DJ LeMahieu got a day off.
Royals: LHP Kris Bubic (2-6, 5.53 ERA) has allowed just two earned runs in 14 innings in his past two starts.
Yankees: RHP Gerrit Cole (9-3, 3.09 ERA) makes his seventh start against Kansas City. The five-time All-Star has a 2.04 ERA over 39 2/3 innings in their previous encounters.
Judge’s 3rd Walk-off HR of the Year Lifts Yanks Over Royals 1-0, originally appeared on NBCSports.com