After several days of hard work with mostly improvised rosters, the Yankees picked up a few regulars as reinforcements on Saturday.
The results were as immediate as possible.
With Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton joining the revised batting order, new leader Aaron Judge and the Yankees hit seven straight to start a game for the first time in nearly 32 years and earned a 10-3 victory well deserved on the Rays at the Stadium.
“Awesome. Just great batsmen from everyone, just moving the line,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Just a collection of really good batsmen that first inning really put us in a good position.”
Donaldson and Stanton also hit solo homers to back up Jameson Taillon, who worked a solid 7¹/₃ innings as the Yankees (84-56) extended their AL East lead over Tampa Bay to 4¹/₂ games. They also won the season series (10-8) before the final regular season game between the division rivals on Sunday.
“Every game is important…and obviously the Rays are clicking on our heels, but we can’t control what’s happened in the past,” Donaldson said. “He was big. … We wanted to dictate the beats, and I feel like we did that and we were able to accomplish what we wanted to.
The last time the Yankees opened a game with at least seven straight hits was when they hit eight in a row in a 15-3 win over the Orioles at Old Stadium on Sept. 25, 1990. This game featured home runs from Roberto Kelly and Randy Velarde.
Judge, the MLB leader with 55 homers, ripped two of the Yankees’ eight total singles in their first six-run inning on Saturday against former teammate Corey Kluber, who had posted a 1.08 ERA in four previous starts against them this season.
Finishing 3-for-4, Judge had his career-best seventh straight game, in which he reached base safely at least three times. This included the bottom two out of first place. It is the longest such streak by a Yankee since Mickey Mantle in June 1957.
“He’s so boxed in and doesn’t get anything done,” Boone said of Judge, whose batting average is .307. “We’ve seen teams in some cases really throw around him. The Rays tend to chase him a bit more. But it takes what the game gives you. He’s doing a great job right now.
DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Benintendi and Jose Trevino (paternity leave) remain sidelined, but Stanton was back in the lineup for the first time since Monday after a foot issue. Batting second for the third time this season, Stanton followed Judge’s opening single on the left with a one-liner on the right, before Gleyber Torres opened the scoring with an RBI single on the right.
Donaldson, activated on the pre-game paternity list after the birth of his daughter, chose the top of the wall to load the bases. Oswaldo Cabrera had a two-run single, Miguel Andujar threw a run with a hit down the middle, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa also added a hit. Additional runs were scored on Kyle Higashioka’s defenseman pick and Judge’s second single, which chased Kluber down 6-0.
“It was fun getting those first punches and staying on top,” Stanton said. “It was a good jolt for us.”
Especially for Taillon (13-4), who had three runs on six hits, one walk and eight strikeouts in 99 shots. Lou Trivino allowed two legacy runners to score on Harold Ramirez’s single after Taillon started in the eighth to a loud standing ovation.
“I got chills while walking,” Taillon said. “Big game here against a team that is chasing us. I knew we needed a big game. And the attack with six in the first made my job really easy.
Donaldson homered into the right field seats in the second inning against JT Chargois to increase the Yankees’ lead to 7-0. Donaldson was also hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch by Calvin Faucher as the Yankees added two more in the seventh.
Stanton’s solo home run – his 25th of the season, but the first since July 15 – came off the 47-mph field from position player Christian Bethancourt in the eighth. The ball clicked off the left field foul post for a 10-3 lead.
“They all matter,” Stanton said. “You never know what spark will come out of it, whether it’s a positional player or some other way. It’s still a big league home run. Feed on them and get them tomorrow.
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