OAKLAND -- The Yankees’ incredible late-summer surge shows no signs of slowing, having now spanned two full weeks since their last defeat. There are the usual dugout clichés about taking it one game at a time, but behind closed doors, even the players are marveling at how special this run has been.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders,” said Stanton, who homered for a fourth straight game. “We’re grinding away at the opponent. We’ve discussed what it took to get here and how we’ve all fed off each other, the work that we’ve all put in. It’s cool to see it develop.”
Stanton opened the scoring in the contest in the fourth inning with a jaw-dropping 472-foot homer off A’s starter Sean Manaea, marking the longest home run hit by a Yankee this year. Stanton’s drive reached the second deck above a suite in left-center field.
“Watching 'Big G' hit a homer is my favorite thing in all of baseball,” Higashioka said. “There’s not a single other person that the ball comes off their bat the same way. 'Big G' hits a two-iron every time. It looks like it’s still rising when it goes out.”
Voit added a solo shot later that inning, while Judge -- playing in front of friends and family from nearby Linden, Calif. -- swatted a three-run homer in the fifth.
“This is what we thought we were going to do all year,” Voit said.
The barrage helped equal the longest winning streak by a Yankees team in the past 60 years, matching a feat achieved by the Mickey Mantle- and Roger Maris-led squad from Sept. 1-12, 1961. The Yanks improved to 12-1 in games when Judge and Stanton both homer, including the postseason.
“It was another good one tonight,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “The best part about it is the many contributions we’re getting from the entire roster. Tonight was just a really good all-around win for us.”
Milestones for Cole
Hours before fans laid blankets across the outfield grass to observe a postgame Star Wars-themed drone display, the Yankees provided the offensive fireworks to boost right-hander Gerrit Cole, who became the first American League pitcher to reach 13 wins and 200 strikeouts this season.
Scattering six hits over six scoreless innings, Cole finished his evening with a flourish, striking out the side in his final frame. Cole’s last whiff was his ninth of the night and his 200th in 148 innings this season, a mark he said he was aware of after seeing it on the scoreboard.
“It’s not a goal,” Cole said. “It’s just my job.”
Cole’s hairiest spot came in the fifth, when Oakland loaded the bases with one out. Cole struck out Jed Lowrie, then escaped the inning on a sparkling defensive play by third baseman Gio Urshela, who snagged Josh Harrison’s liner.
Cole has won all three of his starts since returning from the COVID-19 injured list, posting a 0.51 ERA over that stretch. He shattered the previous Yankees record for fewest innings to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, which was previously 168 1/3, set by Michael Pineda in 2016.
“I’m just trying to go out there and throw a quality start,” Cole said. “If the strikeout is the most efficient way to get it, then so be it. It’s a special little record, but it’s a little one.”
The Yankees haven’t lost since the Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 12 in Iowa. Their 13-game winning streak is six shy of the longest in franchise history, which was set from June 29-July 17, 1947.
“It definitely validates a lot of the hard work we’ve been putting in to try to get back on track,” Higashioka said. “It’s still going forward. We know every game is a must win, and it’s going to continue to be that way, hopefully until the end of October.”
Oakland was the other Major League team to enjoy a 13-game winning streak this season, correcting a slow start by not losing from April 9-24. But the fading A’s have now lost 10 of their past 12, while the Yankees have taken charge in the American League Wild Card race -- with their sights set upon more.
“It means we’re playing good baseball, and maybe we got a little bit fortunate along the way,” Cole said. “Any time you can push the record books with this organization, it’s probably something special. There’s a lot left out there for us to be desired, so we’ve got to keep plugging away.”