BALTIMORE — Aaron Judge turned to his manager in the top of the third inning Sunday afternoon and told him he wouldn’t let him down this time. The Yankees’ slugger then went out and crushed his major-league leading 37th home run of the season to power the Bombers to a 6-0 shutout of the Orioles at Camden Yards.
The Yankees (66-31) have won just two of their last five, but that gave them a series win over the Orioles (47-48). They won the season series 11-5 and remained ahead of the Astros, who they are battling for the best record in the American League.
“Answering back especially after the two games in Houston and we’re getting a chance to bounce back after a tough loss last night. That’s going to be big going into this off day,” Judge said.
Nestor Cortes threw six scoreless innings and Clarke Schmidt threw three scoreless to pick up his first career save. Jose Trevino had a career-high four hits, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and a double. He is one of just six Yankees catchers to have a four-hit game and the first since Gary Sanchez did it in 2019.
And Judge continued to dominate with not just his power, but his well-rounded game.
Judge’s two-run shot in the third inning went 456 feet over the left-field wall, which was pushed back 26.5 feet and raised to 13 feet this winter. It was his third homer of the series and third that mocked the Orioles’ renovations trying to keep opponents like the Yankees in the ballpark. Since 2017, Judge’s 35 home runs against Baltimore are the most by a major league player against a single opponent in that span.
Judge’s 37 homers through the first 97 games of the season are the most since Mickey Mantle hit 39 in 1961. He is on pace to hit 62 home runs this season.
He is also leading the majors in RBI and hitting .294, carrying the Yankees offense at times.
“I mean, it says that he’s an MVP caliber player. I mean, there’s a handful of those players in both leagues. That’s usually the case with their team. They’re gonna tend to be more consistent and tend to be more impactful while other guys tend to slump and go in and out a little bit more,” Boone said. “Guys like him usually remain a little more consistent. Obviously they’re gonna have their downturns — two days here and there, weeks here and there – , but for the most part, it’s just a special player in the middle of a special season.”
He also reached base with a single in the seventh, the seventh game in a row he’s reached multiple times. It’s the longest stretch of his career.
“It’s incredible. It’s incredible, everything he does from the moment he steps into the clubhouse to the moment he’s out there stretching to when he’s playing the game,” Nestor Cortes said. “Everything about him is excellent. He plays the game hard every single day. He knows what he wants to do. He knows his approach. And he repeats it every single day.”
In his first start after making his first All-Star appearance, Cortes was excellent as well Sunday. He scattered six hits in his six scoreless innings here. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. It was his seventh start with at least six innings and one earned run of less this season.
“I just thought his four seam fastball right away was really sharp and he had command and the life was there and he was on the attack,” Boone said. “He took the lead and got aggressive like you’d like.”
Cortes has struggled some before the All-Star break, so it was a good chance for him to feel like he was starting the second half off right.
“There’s gonna be a lot of ups and downs in the season. If this is our bad part. I’ll take it,” Cortes said. “We’re grinding and I think people should expect the same thing that they saw in the first half (from us) in the second half.”