ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees are on some kind of hot streak heading into the final weekend before the All-Star break.
Judge hit his second homer of the game leading off the 11th inning, Brett Gardner added a three-run shot and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 on Friday night.
“When it gets to be winning time with these guys, these guys know what to do,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “Just another really impressive performance. Judgy went up there real aggressive, went superhero on us.”
Judge connected on the first pitch from Ryne Stanek (0-2) to give him nine career multihomer games.
“I know he can get his fastball up to 100 (mph) and a good splitter,” Judge said. “So my biggest thing was to try to get ready early and stay on the heater but also have a chance at that splitter.”
The big slugger also went deep in the first against two-way player Brendan McKay as New York extended its AL East lead over Tampa Bay to a season-high 8 1/2 games.
The Yankees have won 16 of 18 since June 15 and are 9-2 against the Rays this season.
“Look, they’re a better team than us right now,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “There’s no denying that. They have a better record for many of the right reasons and they perform better than us. In a game, in a head-to-head matchup, they make the most of those situations more than we have.”
Aaron Hicks tied it in the eighth with a pinch-hit homer for the Yankees, who used a five-run 10th to beat the Rays 8-4 on Thursday in the opener of a four-game series.
David Hale (2-0) left with two on and one out in the 11th. Aroldis Chapman, who blew a two-run lead in the ninth Thursday, walked Travis d’Arnaud with two outs but got a lineout from Tommy Pham to get his 24th save.
Masahiro Tanaka, who entered 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season, was charged with four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
McKay allowed three runs and six hits over five innings in his second pitching start. The left-hander gave up one hit in six scoreless innings in his big league debut last Saturday, a win over Texas.
“I’ve faced two very quality lineups and got my feet wet to what it’s like up here,” McKay said.
Nate Lowe hit his first major league homer and Mike Zunino also went deep for the Rays.
After replacing Tanaka with runners on first and third, Nestor Cortes Jr. allowed Kevin Kiermaier’s two-run single that gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead.
Hicks got the Yankees even in the eighth.
Judge, who faced McKay while on a rehab assignment for an oblique injury June 15 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Durham, hit a hard grounder that just missed the pitcher’s leg in the fourth. He struck out swinging on a 93 mph fastball from McKay with two on to end the fifth.
In the minor league game, McKay got a grounder from Judge and struck him out.
Yankees LHP CC Sabathia will be honored by Major League Baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Cleveland. In the final season of his 19-year career, Sabathia will be recognized for his contributions to the game and longtime service to the community. “This is awesome,” said Sabathia, who started his big league career with the Indians in 2001.
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez was rested. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th.
Rays: Kiermaier (sore left wrist) was out of the lineup the previous two games.
Yankees: Sabathia (5-4) starts on 11 days’ rest Saturday. He is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three outings against Tampa Bay this season.
Rays: AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (5-7) allowed six runs and got only one out in his last start against the Yankees on June 19 in New York.
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