TORONTO — The Yankees crunched the numbers ahead of their first visit to Rogers Center this season, deciding an opener would provide their best chance to shut down the powerhouse Blue Jays. The plan worked perfectly.
“That’s where we need to step up, especially against the top teams in the American League East,” Judge said. “Getting that first game against the Blue Jays is a great moment, but we still have a few tough games ahead of us.”
Returning to the scene of his 61st home run on Sept. 28 last season, which tied Roger Maris’ single-season AL home run record, Judge seemed to pick up where he left off.
The slugger hit a first-inning homer off Alek Manoah, then took Jay Jackson down the bottom of the eighth — a 462-foot blast to center field that immediately followed the ejection of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who had disputed balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Clint Vondrak.
“Honestly, it’s probably just a normal day for him,” said Willie Calhoun, who hit a two-run homer first. “But for a lot of other people it would be one of the most distant circuits of their careers.”
Boone had already arrived in the visitors’ clubhouse when Judge signed on, and the manager said he “gave a pretty good shout” when the ball went over the wall.
“It was nice,” Boone said, “to see him really stick one like that.”
The batting offense would be scrutinized, and not just for the home run, which exploded at the judge’s bat at an exit speed of 114.9 mph. On the Blue Jays broadcast, Sportsnet announcers Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez wondered aloud why Judge’s eyes seemed to be rolling to the right before a pitch was delivered.
The judge’s explanation was that there had been too many “chirps” coming from the visitor dugout after Boone was ejected.
“I said a few things when I was in the dugout, and especially after the game,” Judge said. “I hope this won’t happen again. »
With the homer, Judge’s 10th of the year, he passed Alex Rodriguez (29) for the fifth-most multihomer games in a Yankees uniform. Only Babe Ruth (68), Mickey Mantle (46), Lou Gehrig (43), and Joe DiMaggio (35) have produced more such games in franchise history.
“Tonight we did a good job getting something we could drive and giving it a good swing to do some damage,” Judge said.
New York flipped the script on what appeared to be a pitching lag, seeing Cordero and Brito navigate while hitting Manoah for five runs on six hits and seven walks over four innings.
“Anytime you can score early, that’s always a good thing,” Boone said. “We added pretty well, and I felt like all night we had chances to add even more. A really good plan by the guys, and they went out and executed it.
While Manoah served up first-inning outbursts to Judge and Calhoun, Cordero took the opener role well, striking out all six batters he faced.
“For Jimmy to get us ready and going through those first six hitters, mostly tough right-handed hitters, was huge,” Boone said. “He put us in a good position for Jhony, who came in and threw the ball really well.”
Said Cordero: “It was a good experience for me. Yeah sure, 100% I would do it again.
Brito pitched five scoreless innings before Toronto finally broke through for four runs (one earned) in the eighth, a frame that featured an error from Gleyber Torres.
“When the coaches spoke to me, they informed me that they had an idea they were considering doing,” Brito said through an interpreter. “After every start, I worked very hard to improve my strength and figure out how to improve. Tonight I was able to collect a lot of good things.