Back-to-back no-hitters? Yanks object, Judge walks it off
NEW YORK -- No Major League team has ever been held hitless in consecutive games, though as the Yankees sleepwalked through their first six innings on Sunday afternoon, the possibility of that unthinkable occurrence was worth a double-check. The vibe changed in a hurry -- not only would they get a hit; they were coming all the way back.
Giancarlo Stanton visited Monument Park with a seventh-inning home run that shattered the no-hit bid and the shutout, DJ LeMahieu launched a two-run homer to tie the game in the eighth and Aaron Judge stamped the conclusion with a three-run blast in the 10th, rounding the bases for his second walk-off hit of the series in a 6-3 victory over the Astros at Yankee Stadium.
“These two teams, we’re going to be seeing each other a lot down the road,” Judge said. “We’ve seen each other a lot in years past in the postseason. You look forward to these weekends, playing good teams and seeing where you stack up.”
New York and Houston split the four-game showdown of the top clubs in the American League, which certainly had all the makings of a postseason preview. LeMahieu said that he felt the home team did not play its best during the set, though the Yankees did enough to earn their Major League-leading 10th walk-off win and 22nd comeback victory of the season.
“It’s a big win because this is one of the better teams we’ve faced this year,” LeMahieu said. “You could tell they were coming at us with everything they had. We’ve had a good start, but at the same time, we haven’t done anything yet either. We’ll be watching them from afar, and there’s some other good teams, too.”
It was an afternoon bookended by homers -- Judge’s Major League-leading 28th to end it and Jose Altuve beginning the day by slugging Nestor Cortes’ first pitch into the left-field seats.
After Cristian Javier and two relievers hurled a combined no-hitter on Saturday, Jose Urquidy kept the Yanks’ bats quiet until Stanton’s 17th homer, which snapped an 0-for-52 string for Bombers hitters dating back to LeMahieu’s eighth-inning single on Friday.
No club has ever been no-hit -- or thrown a no-hitter -- in consecutive games, though the 1917 St. Louis Browns had no-hitters pitched on consecutive days. St. Louis hurlers Ernie Koob and Bob Groom held the White Sox hitless on May 5 and 6, 1917, with Groom’s no-hitter coming in the back end of a doubleheader.
Even as each Yankee made hard right turns back toward the dugout, manager Aaron Boone said that he did not sense panic in his players. Relief came when Stanton’s 111 mph drive landed on the netting over the retired numbers, ensuring Koob and Groom could keep their unique place in the record book.
“We noticed the innings piling up, for sure, but you can’t panic in that time,” Stanton said. “We were no-hit into the seventh and we ended up winning the game. If you give up in the eighth with five outs left, two outs left, you’re giving them an advantage. As long as we’ve got an out left, we’ve got a chance to win.”
LeMahieu reached the left-field seats in the eighth, swatting a Phil Maton slider for his seventh homer of the year and setting up an action-packed conclusion.
The Yankees appeared set to celebrate in the ninth, when Gleyber Torres walked, stole second and advanced to third on catcher Jason Castro’s throwing error. In a strange sequence, Torres was tagged out after what Boone called a “mild” right ankle sprain, sustained while scrambling back to third base after an Aaron Hicks strikeout.
“He caught his spike and kind of rolled it there at third,” Boone said. “I’m hoping it scared him more than anything.”
Michael King pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th, inducing a flyout and foul popup, and the Yankees soon had their best player back at the dish.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa advanced the automatic runner with a true ‘sacrifice’ bunt -- Seth Martinez’s pitch clipped Kiner-Falefa’s finger -- and Judge sent a 417-foot drive into the visiting bullpen, rounding the bases and once again showing off his griddy dance before stamping a foot on home plate.
“A series like this, you never know who’s going to come up with the big hit,” Judge said. “It could be anyone one through nine in that lineup to do something good for you. This kind of reminds me of some postseason games -- big clutch hitting, moving runners over, great defensive plays all around. You never know what’s going to happen.”