Judge hits HR No. 45 as young Yanks rake

Slugger goes back-to-back with Sanchez; Gregorius passes Jeter

September 20th, 2017

NEW YORK -- The young Yankees busted out the bats in Wednesday afternoon's 11-3 win over the Twins, beginning with 's American League-leading 45th home run, as the rookie slugger went back-to-back with fellow "Baby Bomber" in the third inning off right-hander .

One inning later, Didi Gregorius connected for his 25th blast of the season as part of a six-run frame, a three-run shot that set a single-season record for homers by a Yankees shortstop. The previous mark had been set by Derek Jeter's 24 homers in 1999, and Gregorius made sure to bring the milestone ball home.

"I'm showing a little bit of power, more than last year," said Gregorius, who hit 20 homers in 2016, then a career high. "For me, the most important thing is winning. There's records, but we still have a couple of games left to play, and our main goal is to try to win a ring and a championship. That's what is most important."

Meeting the lucky fan who caught the ball outside the Yankees' clubhouse after the game, Gregorius said that he had swapped an autographed bat for the memento. Gregorius has been providing plenty of souvenirs lately; he has homered in four of the Yanks' past six games, collecting 11 RBIs in that span, and he has tallied 22 RBIs in September.

"He's consistent," Judge said. "That's the big thing about him. He's a consistent part of this lineup. He never has those 0-for-4 days and then 4-for-4 days. He's always getting on base, always making something happen. Talking about his defense, [he's] always making plays. It's solid having a guy like that up the middle."

With his blast, Judge became the fourth Yankees rookie to tally 100 RBIs, joining Joe DiMaggio (125 in 1936), Tony Lazzeri (114 in 1926) and Hideki Matsui (106 in 2003).

"That's just an example of me being in a good position with this team," Judge said. "These guys always put me in good position. There's always runners on base for me. I'm getting into good counts because they can run. I've got to thank my teammates for making this happen this year."

According to Statcast™, Judge's blast left his bat at 101.9 mph and traveled 349 feet.

Sanchez immediately followed with a shot that landed on the netting covering Monument Park in center field. Sanchez's 32 homers lead all big league backstops and are the most hit by a catcher age 24 or younger since Hall of Famer Mike Piazza hit 35 for the 1993 Dodgers.

It was the second time this season that Judge and Sanchez have hit back-to-back homers; they also did so on Sept. 14 against the Orioles. Judge and Sanchez have homered in the same game eight times this season.

"I think we have a really good core of young players here, and there's more coming," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I see these kids, and they're playing at an extremely high level at a very young age. I give them a lot of credit."

With at least 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 100 walks, Judge joined Lou Gehrig (11 times), Babe Ruth (10 times), Mickey Mantle (three times), Charlie Keller (two times), Jason Giambi (2002), Bernie Williams (1999) and George Selkirk (1939) as the only Yankees to reach those marks.

According to Statcast™, Judge also set a single-season record for "barrels," a metric used to identify the best-hit balls. Judge's homer was his 78th of 2017, surpassing the 77 barrels that of the Tigers recorded in 2016.

"We're just focused now on what we can control and what we can do," Judge said. "The biggest thing for us is about winning every pitch and controlling what we can."