For his teammates, watching Aaron Judge’s power surge has brought back memories of last season, when he hit 62 home runs to break Roger Maris’ American League single-season home run record.
After homering two batters into Friday’s game, Judge has gone deep seven times in as many games. He’ll try to keep his power display going Saturday when the New York Yankees continue a three-game series with the host Cincinnati Reds.
The Yankees are 12-5 in their last 17 games and 8-3 since Judge returned from a brief injured list stint because of a strained right hip. Judge, who hit a solo homer in Friday’s 6-2 win, is batting .317 (13-for-41) with seven homers and 15 RBIs since his return.
“It’s very reminiscent of what we saw last year,” Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt said of Judge’s hot streak. “You see the same guy. I don’t think anything has changed from last year. When you see him get hot like this, just watch out. It’s definitely a reason for concern for the rest of the league.”
Anthony Rizzo also is rolling lately. He hit a two-run homer Friday, has reached base in 16 of his last 17 games and is hitting .349 (22-for-63) with five homers and 12 RBIs in that span.
“When you’ve got Anthony Rizzo hitting behind you, who’s been red hot as well, you’re going to get good pitches to hit,” Judge said.
Cincinnati is hoping to avoid a third straight loss Saturday after striking out 11 times in the series opener.
Rookie Matt McLain had two hits in his home debut and Jake Fraley hit a two-run double in the sixth inning Friday, but the Reds did not get a hit the rest of the way and allowed three runs in the ninth.
The Reds also are hoping manager David Bell does not get ejected again. Bell was tossed for arguing with umpires after Schmidt was allowed to keep pitching after a second sticky substance check, leading to some confusion among the Reds.
“That’s happened to the Yankees,” Cincinnati second baseman Jonathan India said. “I think it’s the fourth time this year it’s happened, so something is going on, but I thought you were supposed to be tossed if you have any substance on your hand or glove. I guess that wasn’t the case.”
Judge’s next at-bat will be against Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.26 ERA), who is coming off his best start of the season. Weaver allowed one run on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision during a 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Weaver is facing the Yankees for the first time, but Rizzo is 8-for-13 (.615) against the right-hander.
The Yankees did not announce their starting pitching plans for Saturday and could deploy someone as an opener before using Jhony Brito as a bulk reliever. The plan worked out Monday when Jimmy Cordero opened with two perfect innings before Brito allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits and threw 71 pitches over 5 1/3 innings during a 7-4 win in Toronto.
— Field Level Media
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