After losing their sixth game in a row on Thursday night, finishing off what manager Aaron Boone called a "horrible" homestand, Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge gave a speech to his teammates.
New York's de facto captain reminded those in pinstripes that despite their recent free fall, this group has what it takes to turn their season around down the stretch. All they need to do, Judge said, was have fun and get back to playing their ball.
Another debilitating defeat followed on Friday—New York's 11th loss in 13 games—but on Saturday evening in Queens, the Yankees finally showed some life led by Judge, who let his bat do the talking.
Behind two home runs from No. 99, and a costly error by Javier Baez to allow the go-ahead run to score in the top of the eighth, New York snapped their losing streak with an 8-7 victory.
Following an unforgettable and emotional pregame ceremony, honoring the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Yankees jumped in front early.
New York slugged three home runs in a five-run second inning off Mets starter Taijuan Walker. Catcher Kyle Higashioka and center fielder Brett Gardner clipped the right-hander for two-run shots while Judge went back-to-back with his fellow outfielder for a solo job.
That's when the Yankees reverted to the tendencies that led to this awful stretch. Corey Kluber allowed the Mets to immediately battle back before New York's injury-ravaged bullpen handed the home team the lead in the sixth. All the while, the offense disappeared, going hitless for five innings.
Then, when it looked like this team was poised to go quietly into the night once again, Judge's towering two-run home run in the eighth—off right-hander Trevor May—kept his club from another gut-wrenching loss.
The blast from Judge, his 32nd of the season, left his bat at 110.6 mph and soared 413 feet. More importantly, it gave his team all the momentum in the late innings.
A few batters later, pinch-hitter Luke Voit bounced into what looked like a tailor-made double play, but an errant throw from Baez at second allowed the game-winning run to scamper home.
The Bombers took a one-run lead into the ninth and while embattled closer Aroldis Chapman certainly made it interesting—as he's done practically all season—the Yankees held on.
It's only fitting that Judge hauled in the final out, minutes after he made a diving catch to rob Baez of extra bases.
The victory allows the Yankees to shake hands, a sigh of relief after such a brutal week, but it also keeps the Bombers in the postseason picture. While the Toronto Blue Jays won both games of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles, New York is still sitting in the second Wild Card spot entering play on Sunday.
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