BOSTON -- The 2018 Yankees belted more home runs than any other team in Major League history, setting a record with 267 long balls. That mark stood for fewer than 12 months, exactly what Aaron Judge had predicted in the early days of Spring Training, when the star slugger chuckled and said: “We’re going to crush that.”
Judge did not figure upon the Twins (276 through Sunday) getting there first, but he was indeed correct about his squad’s power potential. Judge’s fifth-inning blast Sunday was his club’s 268th of the campaign, following earlier homers by Gleyber Torres and Mike Tauchman as the Yankees outslugged the Red Sox in a 10-5 victory at Fenway Park.
“It's amazing,” said Torres, who had three hits and drove in four runs. “I didn't know we broke the record again. All of the guys hit pretty well. We've got the same plan, to attack early, and when we hit homers we're great. We'll just try to continue that and try to win most of the games.”
Torres and Tauchman hit two-run shots off Rick Porcello, who was thumped for six runs in four innings. Torres’ 35th homer gave him the club lead, breaking a tie with Gary Sanchez (34), and Judge established the new franchise record for team homers in a season with a solo shot off Ryan Brasier that landed in the seating area atop the Green Monster.
“We were heavy again,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “When you are facing our offense, I want you to feel it. Today, I felt like that was the case. I felt like we made it very difficult on them. Today felt like when we’re at our best, making it difficult and hitting the ball hard.”
New York is 64-12 (.842) when hitting multiple home runs this season, including 35-4 (.897) when hitting at least three.
“Obviously, it’s a big part of our offense,” Boone said.
The victory improved the Yankees’ record to a season-high 44 games over .500 (94-50), their most since ending the 2009 season with a 103-59 record. As they continue to battle for home-field advantage in the playoffs, New York is tied with the Astros for the highest winning percentage in the Majors (.653).
“We are like a family, always coming to the ballpark,” Torres said. “Everybody is on the same page, trying to win all the games. It doesn't matter if the playoffs are coming. We live in the moment right now, day to day, and try to be focused. We are ready for the next step.”
The Yankees are unlikely to see the Red Sox after Monday evening, and that should be good news for Masahiro Tanaka, who has been unable to solve their lineup in three tries this season.
Following hearty thumpings in London on June 29 (six runs in two-thirds of an inning) and at Fenway on July 25 (a career-high 12 runs in 3 1/3 frames), Tanaka endured another abbreviated outing Sunday, allowing four runs and eight hits over four innings, including a two-run Jackie Bradley Jr. homer.
“It was a bit of a grind,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I felt like I was getting into favorable counts with two strikes, but not being really able to finish it off. I think that was the part that made it a grind.”
Boone said he thought Tanaka struggled with his splitter, which allowed the Red Sox to work lengthy at-bats.
“I look at the big picture,” Boone said. “Over the last month to six weeks, for the most part he’s been really sharp and really good. He’s in a good place throwing the ball. He pitched tonight in a game we won. It wasn’t perfect, but I feel like overall he’s in a good spot.”
Easy being Green
There are a variety of roles in which Chad Green could be utilized in October, and Sunday’s performance in shutting down the middle innings garnered him a few points in the bullpen pecking order.
Green was stellar, inheriting a two-run lead from Tanaka and striking out five over three perfect innings. Boone said he pushed Green to equal his season-high of three innings (also Aug. 21 at Oakland) because he threw 27 of 37 pitches for strikes.
“He was so efficient, we let him run a little bit there,” Boone said. “He was terrific getting the ball to the back end of the game.”
The victory came at a cost, as Tauchman felt tightness in his left calf while fielding Brock Holt’s fifth-inning single, one half-inning after Tauchman hooked his 13th homer around Pesky’s Pole in right field.
One of the great surprises of this “Next Man Up” Yankees season, Tauchman left the game almost immediately and will return to New York on Monday for evaluation and imaging under the care of team physician Christopher Ahmad.
“It’s incredibly disheartening,” Tauchman said. “Being out there with the guys has been amazing. Whatever the treatment is, I’m going to attack that and get back on the field as fast as I can.”
In Tauchman’s absence, Boone said Cameron Maybin is likely to play regularly in left field. Maybin’s playing time has been impacted of late by lingering soreness in his left wrist that could require surgery after the season.