After several days of slogging along with mostly makeshift lineups, the Yankees got back a couple of regulars as reinforcements on Saturday.
The results were as immediate as you can get.
With Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton rejoining the revised batting order, new leadoff man Aaron Judge and the Yankees rattled off seven straight hits to start a game for the first time in nearly 32 years and cruised to a much-needed 10-3 victory over the Rays at the Stadium.
“Awesome. Just great at-bats from everyone, just moving the line,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Just a collection of really great at-bats that first inning really put us in a good spot.”
Donaldson and Stanton also stroked solo home runs in support of Jameson Taillon, who worked 7 ¹/₃ strong innings as the Yankees (84-56) extended their lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay back to 4 ¹/₂ games. They also clinched the season series (10-8) ahead of the final regular-season game between the division rivals on Sunday.
“Every game is big … and obviously the Rays are clicking on our heels, but we can’t control what’s happened in the past,” Donaldson said. “It was big. … We wanted to dictate the at-bats, and I feel like we did that and were able to accomplish what we wanted to.”
The previous time the Yankees opened a game with at least seven consecutive hits was when they managed eight in a row in a 15-3 win over the Orioles at the old Stadium on Sept. 25, 1990. That game featured home runs by Roberto Kelly and Randy Velarde.
Judge, the MLB leader with 55 homers, ripped two of the Yankees’ eight singles overall in their six-run first inning 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 consecutive game in which he reached base safely at least three times. That included the past two out of the leadoff spot. It is the longest such streak by a Yankee since Mickey Mantle in June 1957.
“He’s so locked in and not giving anything away,” Boone said of Judge, whose batting average is up to .307. “We’ve seen teams in some cases really pitch around him. The Rays tend to go after him a little more. But he’s taking what the game gives you. He’s doing a great job of that 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 leadoff single to left with a liner to right, before Gleyber Torres opened the scoring with an RBI single to right.
Donaldson, activated off the paternity list before the game following the birth of his daughter, singled off the top of the wall to load the bases. Oswaldo Cabrera had a two-run single, Miguel Andujar drove in a run with a hit up the middle and Isiah Kiner-Falefa also added a hit. Additional runs scored on Kyle Higashioka’s fielder’s choice grounder and Judge’s second single, which chased Kluber with a 6-0 deficit.
“It was fun to get those first few punches in and stay on top,” Stanton said. “It was a good jolt for us.”
Especially for Taillon (13-4), who was charged with three runs on six hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts, over 99 pitches. Lou Trivino allowing two inherited runners to score on Harold Ramirez’s single after Taillon departed in the eighth to a loud standing ovation.
“I got chills walking off,” Taillon said. “Big game here against a team that’s hot on our trail. I knew we needed a big game. And the offense coming out 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 boost the Yankees’ lead to 7-0. Donaldson also was 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 first since July 15 — came off position player Christian Bethancourt’s 47-mph pitch in the eighth. The ball clanked off the left-field foul pole for a 10-3 lead.
“They all count,” Stanton said. “You never know what spark will come from that, whether it’s a position player or any other way. It’s still a big-league homer. Just feed off of it and get ’em tomorrow.”
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