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Judge (2-run HR): 'Hitting is contagious'

@BryanHoch
July 31, 2020

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge shifted his weight on the dugout bench, leaned over to teammate DJ LeMahieu and gestured toward the towering decks of Yankee Stadium. Judge imagined how the crowd would have roared when the Yankees trotted onto their home turf for the first time this season, especially

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge shifted his weight on the dugout bench, leaned over to teammate DJ LeMahieu and gestured toward the towering decks of Yankee Stadium. Judge imagined how the crowd would have roared when the Yankees trotted onto their home turf for the first time this season, especially with the rival Red Sox in the building.

This year, those cheers were artificial, but the slugger's bat remained as loud as ever. Judge homered for the third consecutive game on Friday evening, supporting Jordan Montgomery's first win in more than two years as the Yankees celebrated a 5-1 victory over Boston in their home opener.

Box score

"I was sitting on the bench talking with DJ, just saying how rocking this place would have been," Judge said. "We knew this place would have been packed, so it was a little different. We were upset about that, but the game still goes on -- life goes on. We just prepared the same way, went out there and got a 'W.'"

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Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner also homered for the Yankees, who have won four consecutive games and are 5-1 to start a season for the first time since 2003. The Yankees have also won four straight games against the Red Sox, and nine of their past 10 contests dating to July 2019.

"Being back at home and in this rivalry, you can't help but notice usually how intense it is at times," manager Aaron Boone said. "That was missing a little bit, so it was definitely a little bit different. At the same time, it was still pretty easy to lock in on what we needed to do."

New York took the lead in the third inning as Judge launched a two-run homer off Boston starter Ryan Weber, who also surrendered a homer to Urshela in his 3 1/3-inning effort. Judge homered in both games of this week's two-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore, the fifth time in his career he has homered in three straight contests.

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"I'm just trying to lock in for big at-bats when we've got guys on base, trying to drive in some runs," Judge said. "It's been helping me a lot having DJ in front of me, getting three hits a night and always on base, always causing a little havoc. I'm just trying to feed off that. Like they say, hitting is contagious."

All five of the Yanks' runs on Friday came via the long ball. New York has hit 12 homers in its six games this season, scoring 21 of its 31 total runs via homers.

The deep drives supported Montgomery, who notched his first victory since April 21, 2018, when he bested the Blue Jays. Montgomery underwent Tommy John surgery that June and returned to the Majors last September.

"It's the accumulation of all the hard work and grit to get through it," Montgomery said. "I felt good out there. I'm glad to get that one off my shoulders."

Montgomery limited Boston to one run and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in an 81-pitch effort, issuing one walk and striking out four. Boston's lone run came on Michael Chavis' third-inning homer, and Montgomery said that he was most pleased with the command of his changeup.

"I had them in-between speeds," Montgomery said. "I kind of grinded there for a couple innings and found a little rhythm there in the fifth. I got a lot of ground balls and the defense behind me played great. They got me out of a lot of jams."

Gardner padded the Yankees' advantage with a two-run shot in the eighth off Colten Brewer, snapping an 0-for-12 opening to the season for the longest-tenured Yankees player.

The Yanks' bullpen also excelled on an evening when it was announced that right-hander Tommy Kahnle is expected to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Its workload was highlighted by right-hander Chad Green, who struck out four over two perfect innings.

"We enjoyed it," Judge said. "We were locked in, ready to go from the very first pitch. It was good to see Monty back out there after all the rehabbing and the work he's put in to get back out on the mound. It was fun to see him go out there, toe the slab and do his thing."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.