BALTIMORE — The Yankees will probably never get a bargain now. When the team failed to reach an agreement to make Aaron Judge a Yankee for life this spring, they likely lost their last chance to get any type of favorable deal. Tuesday night, as the MVP chants began at Camden Yards, Judge continued to increase his value on next winter’s free-agent market. The slugger hammered two more home runs, had four hits and was a triple shy of the cycle to lead the Yankees in a 5-4 win over the Orioles.
The Yankees (27-9) have won three straight games, eight of their last nine and 20 of their last 23 games. They maintained the best record in baseball and have guaranteed at least a split of this four-game series. The Orioles (14-23) are the only team to take a series from the Yankees this season. Baltimore won two of three here at Camden Yards last month.
Maybe it’s the scheduled rest — Judge sat out Monday night’s game as part of a prescribed rest program — or the fact he is now playing for a contract after he and the Yankees failed to reach an agreement for this season or a multi-year extension to prevent him from becoming a free agent at the end of the year. Whatever the motivation, Judge is absolutely crushing it this season.
Judge had a ridiculous double off the left-field wall in the first inning, hitting it 399 feet off the wall that was moved 26.5 feet back and raised to 13 feet. In his next at-bat, Judge went 410 feet to right-center for his major league-leading 13th homer of the season. In his next at-bat, he went to dead-center for his 14th of the season.
It was the 19th time in his career that Judge has hit two homers in a game, the sixth time in his career that he has done it against the Orioles and the third time this season. Two of those have come a day after Judge has been given a day off to rest.
“It’s the guys around me. That’s where it starts for me, having a great guy sitting in front of me always getting on base, guys behind me that are getting me a good pitch to hit,” Judge said this weekend about his run. “They don’t want to have (Anthony) Rizzo up there with guys on, they don’t want to have (Josh) Donaldson up there with guys on or Big G (Giancarlo Stanton) especially. So for me, it’s just the guys around me.”
Judge has hit five home runs in his last seven games, 10 in his last 16. He has hit 30 career home runs against the Orioles, the most against any opponent. He was the first player in the majors to hit double-digit home runs this season and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first Yankee to reach the 10-homer mark first in a season since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
Tuesday night, he also doubled in the seventh.
Of his 41 hits this season, 21 have gone for extra bases. He has had multiple hits in four of his last seven games and 13 total games this season.
Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon went five innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He struck out two and walked one in his third start against the Orioles this season. He got five swings and misses against his four-seam fastball and three on his slider.
The Yankees took back the lead in the sixth when the bases were loaded with one out and DJ LeMahieu grounded into an out at shortstop. They added some insurance when Donaldson doubled and then scored when Ramon Urias whiffed on Gleyber Torres’ ground ball.
Tallion gave up a solo home run to Urias to right field in the bottom of the second. The Orioles scored their second run when Torres booted Urias’ ground ball, allowing Trey Mancini, who tripled, to score. Tyler Nevin, the son of former Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, brought in the third run on a sacrifice fly.
Michael King struck out six of nine in three perfect innings of relief.
After getting two outs in the ninth, Aroldis Chapman gave up singles to Nevin and Robinson Chirinos. Ryan McKenna’s fly ball dropped in front of Joey Gallo for a double, allowing the fourth run to score and putting the winning run on second base. But Chapman got Cedric Mullins to pop out in foul territory for his ninth save.