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Aaron Judge stays hot with huge night to lead Yankees against Twins

MLB

MINNEAPOLIS — The party line around the Yankees in recent weeks, as Aaron Judge began to emerge from his slow start to the season, was that he wasn’t locked in yet.

The Yankees captain still won’t admit it, but his at-bats recently indicated otherwise, providing the latest evidence on Wednesday.

Judge crushed his 11th homer of the season, a 467-foot moonshot, and added three doubles and a walk to lead the Yankees past the Twins 4-0 at Target Field.

Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees celebrates his solo home run with teammate Alex Verdugo #24 during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on May 15, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images

“We’re getting there, we’re getting there,” Judge said with a smile after going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. “Not there yet.” I hope we get there when we speak in November.

Marcus Stroman helped the cause by pitching six shutout innings to keep the Twins (24-18) in control while the Yankees (29-15) won for the ninth time in their last 11 games.

They also earned their 11th series victory in 14 occasions.

Less than two weeks ago, Aaron Boone was asked again about Judge’s quiet start, and the Yankees manager continued to preach patience.

Boone insisted that someone would eventually pay for this “big time” and that the judge would “get him going and be careful when he does it.”

It didn’t really take Nostradamus to predict this, but as Boone suggested, opposing pitchers are now feeling the pain, especially after his tape measure blew off Twins right-hander Pablo Lopez.

Aaron Judge was torn at the plate for the Yankees. Getty Images

“He hit me that ball before,” said Stroman, who gave up Judge’s longest home run of his career at 496 feet in 2017. “It’s not a good feeling. But he’s special, man , and he’s locked in right now… Huge momentum shift.

Judge is now hitting .383 (23 for 60) with a 1.350 OPS and seven home runs over his last 17 games.

During that span, he increased his average from .178 to .255 and his OPS from .674 to .926.

“I mean, it’s Aaron Judge,” Boone said. “Yeah, too bad for the rough start.”

The judge changed the situation after a cold start to 2024. Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest game of the season for Judge, spearheading the Yankees’ 13-hit attack, began with the first pitch he saw. In the first inning, Lopez threw him a 95 mph fastball up the middle and Judge pounced on it, driving it a few rows deep into the third deck in left field.

“He felt a little oversized for the park,” Boone said. “What a show he put on today.”

The 467-foot blast was the third longest in the majors this season, behind Judge’s 473-foot blast against the Astros last week and a 473-footer from Mike Trout.

Marcus Stroman had another strong start for the Yankees. Getty Images

“You don’t even feel it,” Judge said. “When you put it on the barrel like that and you’re locked in, timed, you don’t even feel it. I was happy to have had this first run because against Pablo Lopez, it’s going to be a dogfight, a battle. We get an early run and let Stroman go at it.

After Anthony Volpe’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the second inning, Judge came back in the third and ripped a double off the right-center field wall.

Two singles from Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton – both of whom recorded multi-hit games – later put the Yankees up 3-0.

While Judge’s fifth-inning double into the left-center gap was lost, he extended the Yankees’ lead in the seventh inning.

Alex Verdugo of the New York Yankees celebrates his single against the Minnesota Twins in the third inning. Getty Images

After Juan Soto doubled off the right field wall, Judge smoked a laser over the head of center fielder Willi Castro for an RBI double to make it 4-0.

It was a big endorsement for Stroman, who delivered what Boone described as a “gritty” outing.

He struggled through his six innings of work, but allowed just six baserunners (two hits, three walks and an error) and struck out two.

He started and finished strong, with the first and sixth rounds his only clean frames.

Judge took care of the rest, continuing to build on his red-hot stretch that he said comes down to one simple factor.

“It’s like that all year, just making contact,” Judge said. “That’s the only difference.”




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