CHICAGO -- Ask Aaron Judge about his sizzling offensive results of late, and the Yankees slugger replies that he still doesn’t feel locked in at the plate, a comment that should send chills down the spines of American League pitchers. It would not be easy to do more.
Judge homered as part of a four-RBI performance, delivering a pair of go-ahead hits that helped the Yankees outlast the White Sox in a wild 7-5, 10-inning slugfest win on Saturday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field. The All-Star has driven in nine runs in the first two games of the series.
“We’re a confident team. We never feel like we’re out of any game,” Judge said. “It’s tough fighting back, but there’s no panic in this team. There’s no one hanging their heads. I feel like we’re capable of coming back in any game. We love being out there, and you’ve got to pull us off that field.”
Joey Gallo also homered twice, including a critical two-run shot in the 10th. Little has come easily in what manager Aaron Boone has described as the season of the “gut-punch.” That held true as the Yankees survived more late bullpen theatrics, with rookie right-hander Albert Abreu notching the first save of his big league career.
“Right away, even in his warmups, he had a look of, ‘Yeah, give me the ball. I’m ready for this,’” said Boone, who secured his 300th career managerial win in his 500th game. “He’s done a great job for us all year. He’s come up in some really big spots for us here a couple of times in the last couple of weeks, and no tougher spot than that.”
The Yankees had been one strike away from victory in the ninth, but Chad Green snapped a full-count curveball that José Abreu deposited over the left-center-field wall for a game-tying blast. Green’s stumble marked the Yankees’ 18th blown lead in the eighth inning or later, most in the Majors this season.
The advantage restored by Judge’s go-ahead 10th-inning knock and Gallo’s second homer of the game, both off closer Liam Hendriks, Boone turned to Zack Britton for a save opportunity. It was precisely the scenario that Britton had sought out the skipper to discuss in Iowa, saying that he didn’t “deserve” to have those chances given his season-long struggles.
But the cupboard was largely empty by that point. Jonathan Loaisiga had served as a stopper in the sixth, wriggling free of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by inducing a broken-bat fielder’s choice and a deep fly that center fielder Brett Gardner ran down. Wandy Peralta pitched out of a two-on, two-out spot in the seventh without damage.
As he did at the end of the Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa, Britton struggled, retiring only one of the four batters he faced. The 25-year-old Abreu needed only 10 pitches to seal the victory, escaping the bases-loaded jam by inducing a lineout to first base and a fielder’s-choice grounder.
“I’ve been working really hard to do my job in situations like that,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s part of the game, where sometimes you have to come in and you’re going to find a lot of runners on the bases. I’m just glad I was able to do the job.”
All rise (again)
After Judge rounded the bases for two homers in the Iowa cornfield, he continued to produce results on Saturday, lifting a sacrifice fly in the first inning and knocking a run-scoring double in the third.
Judge gave the Yanks the lead in the eighth with his 26th homer, a solo shot to center field off Craig Kimbrel, then greeted Liam Hendriks with a sharp single that chased home Gardner as the automatic runner. Judge is 12-for-30 (.400) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his past seven games.
“I’m still searching,” Judge said. “But hopefully one of these games, we’ll get it locked in. I got out today, so one of these days I’ll be perfect.”
Joey jacks two
Gallo had produced only seven hits through his first 50 at-bats since being acquired by the Yankees before the July 30 Trade Deadline, but Saturday could represent his breakout performance.
Facing Dylan Cease, the slugger cleared the right-field wall with a towering first-inning homer that provided support for Jameson Taillon, who held the big-swinging White Sox to three runs and seven hits over five-plus innings.
“That’s got to be one of the better lineups in all of baseball, if not the best lineup in all of baseball right now, with how deep they are,” Taillon said. “I’m just happy to keep the team in the game and put us in a position to win.”
Gallo’s second homer of the night (and third as a Yankee) went to nearly the same spot of the ballpark, coming off Hendriks in the 10th.
“I’ve never played in the playoffs, but I would assume this is kind of what the playoffs feel like,” Gallo said. “It just has that atmosphere of ‘every pitch matters.’ Neither one of these teams is giving up, no matter what the score is, no matter who’s in the game. It’s been a lot of fun.”