Aaron Judge hit a seventh inning home run off former teammate Tyler Clippard and that stood up for a Yankees 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium. It is mid April and there should be minimal concern about the Yankees not running away with the Al East division.
But it is not all about Judge. He has done his part and a historic home run played a role in he Yankees win. The other part of this power tandem, Giancarlo Stanton showed some signs of resurgence in the Bronx and manager Aaron Boone put him in the cleanup spot.
The at bats for Stanton were better.. Boone saw that and his first at bat went deep to left for an out. It may be the beginning of something for Stanton and the Yankees as they returned home for this long homestand.
Though the Boston Red Sox are making April baseball history with their hot start, and because the Yankees have not lived up to those expectations, of course they will always will be asked when this explosive lineup will do what was expected.
Judge continued to do his part with a solo shot to left off a 3-2 pitch from Clippard. It was his fifth of the season and his 61st career home run established a new Major League record for fastest at that mark, 199 games, surpassing Mark McGwire who did that in 204 games.
“You don’t want to be around .500,” Judge said. “You want to win every game, but it’s April 19th. It’s still early.”
And that word, early does mean something in mid April for the Yankees. This lineup has been struggling with some injuries and the expected power surge of Judge and Stanton has provided some early disappointment
More so, Stanton that has been the center of attention, and yes, it is early for him. You don’t expect this reigning MVP of the National League to remain dormant at the plate. And because it is early, Stanton has plenty of time to produce the home runs that are expected.
He snapped a 9-for-15 skid, a single in the fifth inning. There may be some signs the other Yankees home run threat could be heating up. On another cold night at Yankee Stadium, seeing Judge get another home run and Stanton looking better at the plate, that was enough to make things a little warmer.
And those power bats in the Yankees lineup will eventually all get warm, expected to produce a lot of home runs and runs scored.
So when Judge was asked about the hot streak of April wins coming from the rival Red Sox, he paused and said, “It’s April 19th. “ For sure the 9-8 Yankees have plenty of time to see this entire part of their game come together and it is too soon for panic.
“He controlled his at bats and controlled the zone,” manager Aaron Boone said about Stanton who went 1-for-3. Though DD Gregorius is the hot hitter and never too early for him. A fifth inning single was his team leading 17th RBI.
So it is early, and here was also some concern about CC Sabathia making a return start from the 10-day disabled list. Lifted after 4.1 innings and 71 pitches, in his third start, there was concern something may have been wrong. But Boone clarified the early lifting of his starter.
“CC Sabathia was good,” Boone said. “We weren’t going to go past 75 80 (Pitches). He gave us what we needed.”
Then the bullpen took over. David Robertson had to struggle out of trouble with an inning and seeing his seven-game scoreless streak snapped in the eighth. The Blue Jays could have made it a bigger inning but Robertson was clutch and left the bases loaded.
“One of the strengths of our club is that pen,” Boone said.
Before that, Dellin Betances tossed a scoreless eighth inning and that was another positive sign for the Yankees. As was Aroldis Chapman who had a perfect ninth and struck out the side for his third save,
“Just a matter of of control, trust and make pitches,” Betances said. And if Betances can keep that control that reliable Yankees bullpen is back to normal as expected along with Chad Green who picked up for Sabathia. Maybe not perfect with a lot of offense, and the Yankees did commit another error, leading the American League but it is still early to get that corrected.
And they attacked Blue Jays’ starter and loser Aaron Sanchez and did that early with a two-run second inning. A good win to start a four-game series in the Bronx. Also Toronto is off to that good start at 12-6 and proving they could also be in this division picture with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Remember what Judge said, and in the chambers of a post game locker room. You didn’t have to rise for him when he said, “It’s still early.”