Bronx, N.Y., June 11, 2017; Yankees 14, Baltimore 3 — On the day after Adam West, the actor most famed for playing the character Batman, died, the Yankees battered Baltimore pitching yet again, 14-3, outscoring their AL East rivals 38-8 in a three-game sweep in which the home team blasted 11 home runs. On a gorgeous 90-degree-plus day in the Bronx, the third straight over-45,000-strong crowd delighted in audio Batman references, once their team was up big on a first-inning explosion.
The Saturday six-run first got off to a rollicking start when right fielder Aaron Judge delivered the hardest-hit ball in the majors this year for a home run to left. Sunday, five innings after teammate Gary Sanchez had put the Yanks up 5-0, Judge followed with the longest-hit bomb of the 2017 season. Two more home runs and five more tallies closed out the day’s scoring.
Saturday’s 16-3 win was doubly featured by a dominant outing by young starting pitcher Luis Severino, who was perfect through four, and allowed just two hits and one run in seven stellar innings. No such dominance was expected — or delivered — this afternoon. With struggling nominal ace Masahiro Tanaka given an extra day of rest before starting tomorrow night in Anaheim, manager Joe Girardi decided to piece this game together with a litany of relievers, handing the ball to hard-throwing Chad Green to start.
And Green was very good, striking out three of the first four Orioles batters. But in setting down six of seven through two, Chad was pushed to a full count five times, and he was out after back-to-back doubles delivered Baltimore’s first run to start the third. Two more doubles followed once southpaw Chasen Shreve relieved him, and at 5-3, we had a competitive game for the first time since a three-run, seventh-inning Yankee rally Friday night blew up a one-run game.
But the Sunday drama would not last, and after double plays wiped out Yankee chances in the second and third, DH Matt Holliday’s two run fourth-inning single stretched the lead. Then Judge and Starlin Castro homers delivered the fatal blow in the sixth, with the former drive carrying 495 feet over the left field bleachers, landing beneath where the Yankee retired numbers hang, just in front of the center field promenade. Another four-run seventh-inning outburst, featuring an Aaron Hicks double and another Judge tracer, this one to right, forged the final score.
New York, and all of baseball, is all agog over this Yankee team, its starting pitching and its offense, and in particular Mr. Judge. You hear lots of calls from crowds every day in the game, some factual and reasonable, some neither, but few picked up by a large number of fans and repeated incessantly. An example of the latter is the “MVP! MVP! MVP!” that fed through the Stadium after Judge’s seventh-inning drive, his second of the day, representing his 20th and 21st long balls of the season.
Some complain that the section of seats reserved for fans donning wigs, wielding gavels, and chanting “All Rise!” each time the young slugger approaches the plate with bat in hand is bush league stuff, not worthy of the New York Yankees (who, btw, are featuring the grounds crew dragging the field to the sounds of YMCA! for 22 years now). Others say, make the kid pay his dues. He hasn’t REALLY done anything yet. But Aaron climbed into the lead in all three AL Triple Crown categories this day: 21 home runs, .344 ba, 47 rbi’s.
So what’s the big deal that a guy crushes his 20th and 21st home runs on June 11?
Babe Ruth, who set the standard for in-season home runs with 60 in 1927, and Roger Maris, who in many people’s eyes is still (around what we still don’t want to mention) the season home run leader with 61 in ’61, both hit their 19th and 20th homers in those respective seasons on June 11. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I don’t presume to make any claims as to how the 2017 season will play out. But as a member of a team as iconic as any in sport, that has had two huge home run seasons in its history, I give you the new Yankee June 11 home run leader, with 21 bombs, on June 11, Aaron Judge.