'Beyond special': Judge hits No. 43 in Yanks' 70th win

August 2nd, 2022

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge has brought home two consecutive American League Player of the Week Awards, and the Yankees’ superstar is off to a good start in pursuit of a third.

Judge belted his Major League-leading 43rd home run on Monday evening, joining a power party that included a three-run Anthony Rizzo blast and Jose Trevino’s first career multihomer game as the Yankees became the first club to reach 70 victories this season with a 7-2 win over the Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

“Like I’ve said every single day, my teammates are the ones that have helped me out this year,” Judge said. “I’m just trying to match their energy and match what they’re doing, especially when you’ve got DJ LeMahieu up there at the top of the lineup hitting close to .300, constantly on base and working the count. It helps everybody.”

After Rizzo went deep in the first inning, slugging his fourth homer in six games while providing starter Domingo Germán with a quick lead, Judge connected in the second for a two-run shot off left-hander Marco Gonzales. Judge’s Statcast-projected 420-foot blast landed in the visitors' bullpen.

Judge, who also doubled ahead of Rizzo’s blast, needs 17 homers in the Yankees’ final 58 games to record the ninth 60-homer season in history. Though Judge isn’t saying much about it, he is taking aim at Roger Maris’ single-season AL mark of 61 home runs, set in 1961.

“Judge is doing something that’s beyond special in this day and age of baseball, everything that he’s doing for this franchise,” Rizzo said. “It’s fun to be a part of.”

Judge was announced as the recipient of his second consecutive Player of the Week Award before Monday’s game, having slashed .348/.483/1.000 (8-for-23) with seven runs, five homers, 10 RBIs, six walks and one stolen base in six games.

“To me, hearing Player of the Week back-to-back weeks -- even for a guy in the middle of an MVP season, that’s like, ‘Wow,’” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “There is a level of awe. The season he’s building and putting together has continued to raise that level.”

Said Judge: “It’s great. I try not to think too much about it. Like I said, I’m more excited about the win I got today than anything.”

Judge is just the fourth Major Leaguer (and second Yankee) to hit at least 43 home runs through his club’s first 104 games of a season, joining Babe Ruth (44 in 1921), Mark McGwire (44 in 1998) and Barry Bonds (45 in 2001).

“It’s fun watching what he’s doing,” Boone said.

On a busy day in which the Yankees acquired right-hander Scott Effross from the Cubs, then obtained right-handers Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino from the Athletics, Germán navigated five innings of two-run ball for his first Major League win since May 20, 2021, at Texas.

Effross is expected to be in the Yankees’ bullpen on Tuesday, while Boone said he is still waiting to hear when Montas and Trivino will arrive in New York. The trio of arrivals could spell an upcoming move for Germán, possibly to the bullpen or to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“We haven’t really talked about it,” Germán said through an interpreter. “I understand that the trades were made, but I haven’t talked to them regarding that. Regardless, for me, I have to focus, do my job and train right for my next outing.”

Trevino hit a solo homer in the fourth inning and another in the eighth, marking the 18th multihomer game by a Yankee this season. He has hit a career-high nine homers in 74 games (200 at-bats) after hitting nine in 156 games (489 at-bats) over his first four seasons.

“I just put the ball on the bat and see where it goes,” Trevino said.

As enthused as the Yankees are by Trevino’s increase in power production, the backstop said that he is more excited by the new arms he’ll soon get a chance to work with -- including that Trevino-Trivino battery. So is Judge, who said he planned to log on to Twitter and read more about the moves later that night.

“You can always improve,” Judge said. “I don’t think anybody in this room is satisfied with what we’ve done so far. We’ve gotten off to a great start, but as a team, we’ve done our part and [the front office] is doing their part.”