NEW YORK -- Any lingering concern that there might have been about the state of Aaron Judge's sore left thumb evaporated in the eighth inning on Saturday, as his eyes lit up at a slider spinning into the heart of the strike zone. He knew what to do with it,
NEW YORK -- Any lingering concern that there might have been about the state of Aaron Judge's sore left thumb evaporated in the eighth inning on Saturday, as his eyes lit up at a slider spinning into the heart of the strike zone. He knew what to do with it, and the Yankees continued to do what they have all year -- slug homers and win ballgames.
Judge and the "Baby Bombers" crossed borough lines to flex their muscles at Citi Field, as Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar belted homers off Steven Matz before Judge cracked a tiebreaking blast off reliever Anthony Swarzak, lifting the Yankees to a 4-3 Subway Series victory over the Mets.
"We've got a really good team that competes," Judge said, "and even if we get down early, we're always fighting. If we have a lead, we don't settle. And once you get to our bullpen when we've got a lead, it's kind of game over."
That proved to be the case in this one, as the Yankees secured their fourth straight win and their ninth in 10 games, improving to a Major League-best 42-18 (.700).
Player Page for David Robertson picked up the win in relief of Domingo German, as the rookie right-hander tied a career high by striking out nine without a walk over six frames of five-hit ball, settling in after Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera homered in a three-run first inning.
"You have to put that away," German said through an interpreter. "Two bad pitches, they took advantage of that. You have to focus on the following innings and try to do the job."
Dellin Betances and Albertin Chapman contributed hitless relief, with Betances striking out the side in the eighth and Chapman fanning a pair with two walks in the ninth to lock down his 17th save.
"It's great to come in here and high-five your teammates and go home happy," Robertson said. "I'm just going to keep trying to win series and keep trying to do my job out there. As long as everyone works together, we're a formidable force out there."
The rookie tandem of Torres and Andujar accounted for the Yanks' production off Matz, as Torres cracked a third-inning solo drive to left-center field -- his 11th -- and Andujar tied the game in the sixth, turning on a curveball and mashing a game-tying two-run blast over the fence in left. It was Andujar's eighth of the season.
"It's just impressive how mature they are," Judge said. "They don't act like [rookies]. They don't play like it. They give us professional at-bats, working the count. They've been coming up in big situations all year. I think that's what's been helping our team all year in our success, the bottom of our lineup getting on base and driving people in. Who are you going to try to go after?"
While they continue to build their respective cases in the American League Rookie of the Year Award chase, last year's winner delivered in a big spot, with Judge mashing his 18th homer hours after he underwent X-rays -- which were negative -- on his left thumb, which he jammed sliding into second base on Friday.
"I really wasn't too concerned with it," Judge said. "I felt good today."
Matz settled for a no-decision, scattering five hits over his six innings. The left-hander walked four and struck out six as the Mets lost their 10th consecutive home game.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Coming into the eighth-inning at-bat against Swarzak, Judge had swung at the first pitch of his plate appearances 67 times out of 274, a 24.4 percent rate that ranked below the Major League average.
"With a guy like Swarzak, he's got wipeout stuff, so you've got to try to get him early," Judge said. "I never want to get behind on a guy like that, especially with his good slider and his fastball that plays up. So for me, I was just trying to get something out over the plate early and try to get a good swing on it."
Judge pounced on Swarzak's 84.4 mph slider for the go-ahead homer. At 96.9 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™, it was the softest homer of Judge's big league career.
"I was up for the challenge," Swarzak said. "I think if I get past that first pitch, I might have been OK, but I didn't and I tip my hat to him. I got to play with him [in 2016]. He's a very nice person. You know, he deserves all of the success in the world -- just not this series, I guess."
The Yankees' bullpen has thrown 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings and has a 0.39 ERA in eight games since June 1, the lowest bullpen ERA in the Majors over that span.
"We enjoy going out there trying to match each other's zeros and trying to hold the lead," Betances said.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Aaron Hicks was credited with a ground-rule double in the first inning when his hit to right field found the gate to the Yankees' bullpen, which had mistakenly been left open to begin the game. Bullpen coach Mike Harkey closed the gate, which manager Aaron Boone said the Yankees would make sure was secure for Sunday's series finale.
"When I was getting ready to touch second, I kind of noticed that the outfielders were throwing their hands up and I noticed that the gate was open," said Hicks, who believed he might have had a chance at a triple. "I have no idea. I feel like I was running pretty good." More >
Yankees ace Luis Severino will head to the mound on Sunday, wrapping up this portion of the Subway Series in a nationally televised 8:05 p.m. ET contest at Citi Field. Severino is undefeated in his last 10 starts, posting a 7-0 mark with a 1.85 ERA in those outings, and the Yankees are a Major League-leading 12-1 in Severino's starts this year. Right-hander Seth Lugo draws the start for the Mets in place of the injured Noah Syndergaard.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.