Aaron Judge is turning walk-off home runs into a routine.
Judge on Thursday hit his major league-leading 39th home run for his third walk-off long ball this season, lifting the New York Yankees over the Kansas City Royals 1-0.
New York were held to one hit before Judge drove a first-pitch fastball from Scott Barlow (4-3) into the Kansas City bullpen with one out in the ninth inning.
Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA Today
“I just try not to think too much in those situations,” Judge said.
Judge sent the crowd of 43,836 into a frenzy, joining Mickey Mantle as the only Yankee with three walk-off home runs in one season. Tommy Henrich had two in 1949, plus another off Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe in the World Series opener.
“I just got done watching the video and it just leaked right back middle,” Barlow said. “It’s what he hits really well.”
Judge had never hit a major league walk-off homer before May 10 against Toronto’s Jordan Romano, then hit another on June 26 off Houston’s Seth Martinez. He became the first Yankee with four walk-off hits of any kind in one season since Claudell Washington in 1988.
“It doesn’t cease to amaze the season he’s putting together. Barlow’s obviously really tough,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Just gets a pitch and to put it up in the air where he did is just, not many people can hit it like that and ride it out like he did.”
Judge also stole his 10th base, a career high.
The Yankees had not won a 1-0 game on a walk-off homer since Ruben Sierra connected off the Blue Jays’ Vinnie Chulk on July 22, 2004.
New York’s 12 walk-off wins are tied for second-most through a team’s first 100 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau, one fewer than the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Andrew Benintendi went none for four with one strikeout on his Yankees debut, facing Kansas City one day after the Royals dealt him to New York for three minor league pitchers.
“Definitely looking forward to getting some rest tonight, but it’s been crazy,” Benintendi said. “Meeting a lot of people, running all over the place, but I’m glad to be here and I wouldn’t change it.”
Clay Holmes (5-1) worked around two walks in a hitless ninth, combining on a four-hitter with Jameson Taillon and Ron Marinaccio.
New York have an Amercian League-best 67-33 record, but had lost 10 of their previous 15 games, getting swept this week in a two-game Subway Series at the National League East-leading Mets and losing both games of a doubleheader last week at American League West-leading Houston.
The Yankees won with two hits for the second time, following a 5-1 victory at the Chicago White Sox on May 15.
Taillon struck out a season-high eight and allowed four hits in six innings. Rookie Ron Marinaccio got six outs with two hitless innings and has not allowed a run in 19 innings. Batters are one for 57 against him in that span.
“Confidence has been growing, so I’ve been a little more convicted with some of the decisions I’m making and the pitches I’m throwing,” Marinaccio said.
Brady Singer struck out 10 and allowed one hit in seven innings, a two-out single in the fourth by Gleyber Torres. Kansas City, last in the American League Central, dropped to 39-60.
“Brady responded as good as you could ever ask any pitcher against an offense like this,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “This is the best we’ve seen him.”
Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo heard loud boos, striking out three times for the 12th game this season.
Elsewhere, the Orioles blanked the Rays 3-0, the Blue Jays tamed the Tigers 5-3, the Dodgers routed the Rockies 13-0, the Rangers downed the Angels 2-0, the Giants beat the Cubs 4-2, the Red Sox defeated the Guardians 4-2, the Phillies edged the Pirates 8-7, the Astros sank the Mariners 4-2 and the Marlins pipped the Reds 7-6.
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