Aaron Judge’s home runs are becoming the thing of legend to opposing pitchers. He can beat them in other ways, too.
Judge hit an early homer off his rival Marcus Stroman, then scored on a disputed play during a seven-run burst in the sixth inning that sent the Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-1, on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
“He wins so many pitches over the course of the game up there,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “You better execute when you’re facing him or you’re in trouble.”
Judge put the Yankees ahead, 2-0, with his sixth homer, a two-run drive in the third that landed in the second deck in left field. It came after Stroman and Judge exchanged tweets at the end of last season during which the Toronto pitcher said their “future battles will be legendary.”
“I made one bad pitch,” Stroman said. “It was a 3-0 pitch to Judge that kind of leaked back over the plate. He hammered it.”
Cameras showed a young girl in the crowd ended up with the ball. She marveled at the souvenir as she and her brother passed it back and forth.
Judge is now 7 for 16 with four home runs against Stroman (0-2).
“I was just excited to get two runs on the board against a tough pitcher like Stroman,” Judge said. “A guy like that, you can’t take any pitches off. You’ve just got to be ready to attack and don’t miss a pitch.”
It was 3-1 in the sixth when the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs. Aaron Hicks hit a chopper up the first-base line and Stroman made a backhanded toss to catcher Luke Maile, trying for a forceout.
The ball bounced off Maile’s glove as Judge slid in safely. Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons unsuccessfully argued with the plate umpire Will Little that Maile had possession.
The rookie Miguel Andujar added a three-run double and Judge capped the inning with an R.B.I. single. Andujar has eight extra-base hits in his last five games.
“They can burn you in a heartbeat,” Gibbons said.
Jordan Montgomery (2-0) pitched six innings and allowed one run on four hits. He worked around three walks, and allowed the leadoff hitter on base in three consecutive innings.
Toronto loaded the bases in the third with one out before Montgomery was able to escape the jam with a strikeout and a pop-up.
“I’ve just got to be as aggressive as I can right there and not give in to anybody,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery and two relievers combined to retire the last 15 Blue Jays batters.
Stroman saw his earned run average jump to 8.55. Six of the eight runs he surrendered in five and a third innings were earned.
“When we’re scoring a bunch, it’s a good thing,” Boone said.
Steve Pearce singled home Randal Grichuk in the fifth. Grichuk was walked twice by Montgomery despite beginning the game with an .088 batting average.