There isn’t anyone the New York Yankees would have rather have had up in the bottom of the ninth inning than slugger Aaron Judge, and he showed why on Tuesday night in a wild series opener with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees slugger sent a three-run blast to left field in the bottom of the ninth to complete a Yankee rally that started after the Blue Jays walked Jose Trevino and DJ LeMahieu. It set up the chance for Judge to play the hero on the 1-2 slider and hit his first career walk-off home run in a thrilling 6-5 win.
“I was just excited to get the team the win, help out a little bit,” Aaron Judge said. “Couldn’t really get anything going early on. Getting no-hit for a while and then came back. (Giancarlo Stanton) had the biggest at-bat of the game-tying it up for us and giving us a fighting chance. The guys in front of me did their job and (I) tried to keep the line moving.”
The series opener between the Bombers and Jays proved to be an electric one that saw three members of Toronto get tossed, the New York Yankees offense exploded in the sixth, the bullpen had a rare night where they gave up runs and then Judge’s heroics at the end. The two sides will face one another in the second game of a two-game set on Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx.
“It’s a weird feeling cause you see the crowd going crazy, you see your guys jumping over the railing,” Judge said of the moment. “It’s a special moment I get to share with them and I’m just trying to do my job up there.”
Luis Severino had a rough go of it to start the game giving up a home run to the game’s first batter and then allowing two more in the second inning. He pitched four and two-thirds innings in his sixth start of the season and the righty gave up five hits, one home run and struck out eight before manager Aaron Boone pulled him in the fifth.
Boone said he liked the way the starter was able to bounce back after the first two innings.
“Just a really good grind it out victory against a good team,” Boone said. “It started with (Severino). You know (Severino) is at 65 pitches. I’m maybe getting ready to hook him in the first or second inning and he battles his butt off. Gets us two outs into the fifth inning to at least set us up to have a chance. They just kept battling.”
The Toronto Blue Jays took the lead in the top of the eighth on a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. double to left field to score Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a sac fly drove in a second run.
New York’s bats exploded in the sixth, as well as the Blue Jays’ tempers.
DJ LeMahieu recorded the Bombers’ first hit of the night that inning when he hit a long double into left field. Then Aaron Judge made it to first base after Matt Chapman bobbled the hit to third and allowed the Yankee slugger to get on base.
It was two batters later that Giancarlo Stanton hit a shot to the right field stands to tie the game at three. The home run was Stanton’s seventh of the season and came on a 2-2 pitch from Jays’ reliever Yimi Garcia, who had just come in for Kikuchi.
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That’s when the night took a feisty turn as Garcia hit Josh Donaldson on the elbow, which caused home plate umpire Lance Barrett to toss Garcia from the game without any warning. The Blue Jays reliever was furious over the call and had to be restrained by teammates and officials before he left the field.
The sequence also caused Barrett to eject Toronto Pitching coach Pete Walker during the chaos. David Phelps entered the game and was able to get Hicks and Torres out to end the Yankee threat.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was later ejected in the seventh after he loudly voiced displeasure from the dugout after Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga’s sinker came in close to Bo Bichette.
Josh Donaldson is hit immediately following Stanton’s HR, causing Yimi Garcia to be ejected from the game.
Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker was also ejected following an argument with the umpires.
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After the game crew chief Alfonso Marquez said that “there were some words exchanged between Donaldson and Toronto’s catcher” and that the pitch that hit Donaldson was deemed intentional. All of which factored into the umpire’s decision to toss Garcia from the game.
“When that happens, we have to eject and or warnings, but we felt ejection was the way to go,” Marquez said.
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George Springer put the Toronto Blue Jays out in front quickly in the first inning, sending a 3-2 pitch into the left field stands on the game’s first at-bat. The Blue Jays added two more ins in the second off a two-run double by Santiago Espinal
New York City Mayor Eric Adams threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday night. It was the second time this season that Hizzoner was invited to the Bronx for such an occasion this season having thrown out the first pitch in April on opening day.