Judge's 3rd walk-off HR of '22 ties Mantle's mark

Slugger's 39th blast of season in 9th goes 431 feet, impresses newcomer Benintendi

July 29th, 2022

NEW YORK -- We have grown accustomed to witnessing incredible feats as Aaron Judge continues to build upon a season to remember, so when the Yankees slugger pelted an advertising board at the back of the visiting bullpen for a walk-off homer on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium, surprise hardly registered.

Then again, maybe that’s only true for those of us who have been fortunate to watch Judge on a nightly basis. Andrew Benintendi’s exposure to the MVP candidate has primarily come in the form of television highlights, and when Judge’s blast sealed a 1-0 win over the Royals, the newest Yankee knew he’d seen something special.

“Seeing it from the other side, it’s incredible what he’s doing,” Benintendi said. “Then to be a part of it tonight, it’s almost like it was drawn up exactly how he wants it.”

Judge’s Major League-leading 39th home run rescued the Yankees after they were held to one hit through eight innings, largely thanks to Brady Singer’s dominant 10-strikeout performance over the first seven frames.

Facing Royals closer Scott Barlow in the ninth, Judge launched a Statcast-projected 431-foot blast that allowed the Yanks to celebrate their MLB-leading 12th walk-off win. Judge’s three walk-off homers tie Mickey Mantle (1959) for the most by a Yankee in a single season.

“Especially in that situation, I was [0-for-2] with two [strikeouts]. What’s the worst that’s going to happen?” Judge said. “I just go up there, try to do the job. Get something over the plate and make something happen for the guys behind me. Luckily it happened with the first pitch and we were able to get it done.”

Combined with the acquisition of the All-Star Benintendi, who was acquired from Kansas City on Wednesday for three Minor League prospects and went hitless in his Yanks debut, Judge’s homer served as a salve after the Bombers were swept in a two-game Subway Series this week by the Mets.

“Today was tough, especially coming off the two losses at Citi Field,” Judge said. “Then coming in here and Singer shutting us down all game, it didn’t feel too good. But this team’s got a lot of heart, all the way to the end.”

Serving as the designated hitter, Judge walked through the clubhouse on his way toward home plate in the ninth when reliever Ron Marinaccio remarked: “Let’s get this thing done.”

About two minutes later, while watching from the weight room, the flashing Yankee Stadium lights caught Jameson Taillon’s attention -- a signal to rush for the field.

“We were just like, ‘This dude did it again,’” Taillon said. “It’s pretty unbelievable, but we’ve come to expect it. It seems like every big moment, he comes up there and he comes through.”

Added manager Aaron Boone: “We’ve had the best player in the game on our side, and it seems like time and time again, when it’s mattered the most -- he seems to come up big for us. We couldn’t ask for a better leader of our team.”

Barlow said he was trying to get ahead of Judge with a fastball down and away; the pitch missed its target.

“We just got done watching the video,” Barlow said. “It just leaked right back in the middle, and that’s what he hits really well.”

Sitting offspeed and reacting to heat, Judge said he wasn’t sure if he’d gotten enough of the ball off the bat. Neither was Boone, who attempted to shout the ball over the wall before noticing that center fielder Michael A. Taylor was running out of real estate.

“I was talking to it,” Boone said. “I was telling it to kick. I knew it had a chance, just because it was him. Then I started watching Taylor track it and I’m like, ‘Ooh, we’re in business here.’”

Judge’s homer stood as the difference because Taillon blanked the Royals over six strong innings, scattering four hits. Taillon walked two and struck out eight in a 98-pitch effort.

Marinaccio hurled two perfect innings in relief, extending the rookie’s scoreless streak to 19 innings over 15 consecutive appearances. Closer Clay Holmes pitched a scoreless ninth as the Yankees logged their Major League-leading 14th shutout.

“A good win,” Benintendi said. “I was glad to be a part of it.”