NEW YORK -- A highlight reel of Aaron Judge’s six seasons in a big league uniform would offer many compelling choices -- jaw-dropping homers to the bleachers, daring defensive plays stealing outs. Yet, in any of the Yankees’ walk-off wins, No. 99 always celebrated someone else’s moment in the pile.
That changed on Sunday afternoon, as Judge finally savored being at the center of the crush. Judge worked a bases-loaded walk to force in the deciding run as the Yankees logged their fourth walk-off victory of the year, extending their winning streak to six games with a 5-4 win over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
“I wanted to win it, any way possible,” Judge said. “The guys in front of me had some great at-bats. It was my turn to go up there and either drive a ball in the gap or do whatever it takes. I was just trying to get something out over the plate and win it for the team.”
Judge memorably homered off Chicago’s Liam Hendriks, then serving as the Athletics’ opener, in the first inning of the 2018 American League Wild Card Game. This time, all he needed to do was keep the bat on his shoulder against the White Sox closer.
Clint Frazier opened the ninth with a sharp single, then stole second on a strikeout. DJ LeMahieu was walked intentionally to bring up Tyler Wade, who beat out a soft grounder for an infield hit. Relieving Aaron Bummer, Hendriks lost Judge to a five-pitch walk, his final offering a fastball that sailed high out of the zone.
“It was a legitimate ‘walk’ off,” Judge said, with a chuckle. “I’m not complaining one bit, especially against a pitcher like that who has had quite a bit of success, one of the top pitchers in the game. We’ll take it any way we can against him.”
It was the Yankees’ first walk-off walk since 2010, coming after closer Aroldis Chapman allowed his first earned run of the year. Chapman had converted each of his first 11 save chances before surrendering a pinch-hit opposite-field homer to rookie Andrew Vaughn in the top of the ninth.
“How many times has [Chapman] picked us up this year?” manager Aaron Boone said. “It was good for the guys to string together some really tough at-bats against Bummer and Hendriks. Those are two tough customers.”
Gleyber Torres and Frazier each stroked three hits for the Yanks, who received five sharp frames from starter Jameson Taillon. Continuing a stretch that began with Corey Kluber’s no-hitter, Yanks starters have fired 35 consecutive scoreless innings -- tied for second longest in franchise history, behind a 40-inning stretch in May 1932.
Taillon scattered two hits, issued two walks and struck out four in the 80-pitch effort. He was backed early by Torres, who laced a two-out, two-run single off Dallas Keuchel in the first inning. Torres later added another hit and is 11-for-18 with eight RBIs in five games since being activated from the COVID-19 injured list.
“Right now, I don't want to do too much,” Torres said. “I just want to be myself and play my game.”
Track, wall, gone
Judge might not have had the opportunity for his game-winning walk if not for Yasmani Grandal’s seventh-inning homer off Chad Green, which Frazier believed he could have caught in right field.
Despite Frazier’s leaping attempt, the ball was brought home by a male fan seated in the front row of Section 103, just over the auxiliary scoreboard.
“I thought that I was going to get it,” Frazier said. “I think he just caught the ball at a higher point than I was at. I felt like I timed it pretty well, but that ball was up for grabs for both of us. And he got it.”
Home sweet home
Taillon kept the Yankees’ string of solid starting pitching intact, helped in the first inning by a diving Miguel Andújar catch in left field. Taillon reduced his ERA to 2.42 with 29 strikeouts over 26 innings in The Bronx this season.
“That's a tough team,” Taillon said of the White Sox. “It was a good test for us to see where we're at as a staff. I thought this series was a good measuring stick for us.”
Taillon turned the game over to the bullpen with a 3-0 lead, after Gio Urshela bounced into a bases-loaded double play in the fifth inning for New York’s third run. Left-hander Wandy Peralta allowed a two-run homer to José Abreu in the sixth, a footnote as the Yanks improved to 23-9 in their last 32 games.
“We’ve won games in different ways,” Boone said, “but the common theme is that the starting pitching has been terrific. Our guys weren’t going to be denied.”