In Judge's (literal) shadow, Rizzo's raking 'huge' for Yanks

May 21st, 2023

CINCINNATI -- There were a lot of reasons to walk in the 10th inning of the Yankees game against Reds on Saturday afternoon. Judge is the hottest hitter on the planet and first base was open.

There was one reason not to walk him: .

Both Judge and Rizzo came through to lift the Yankees to a 7-4 victory in 10 innings before a sellout crowd of 41,374 at Great American Ball Park.

Greg Allen, acquired by the Yankees in a trade the day before, was put in as the runner at second in the 10th. He advanced to third on Gleyber Torres' flyout and scored on Judge's single.

"With Gleyber getting him over, it was just a matter of me getting a pitch up," Judge said. "I went up there a little aggressive. I put it in play there to get him in and set up Rizz to do the real damage."

Rizzo did just that. He followed with his second two-run homer -- both off Ian Gibaut -- in as many days and his 24th long ball at Great American Ball Park, second most as a visiting player (Ryan Braun, 28). Not to be outdone, Judge was 4-for-4 with three RBIs on the day. Judge and Rizzo each homered in Friday night's 6-2 win.

As the Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Judge and Rizzo have carried the Yankees, who have won five of six and 10 of 14 to push their record to 28-20.

Judge overshadows Rizzo at times with his larger-than-life feats, but Judge never overlooks his teammate.

"I could start a lot of different places," Judge said when asked what Rizzo means to the team. "What he does in the clubhouse. He's a leader. He motivates guys. He picks guys up. Then what does on the field. He's a great first baseman. Clutch hit after clutch hit.

"He’s a big part of this team. That's why he fits right in the middle of this order. He's been right in the middle of some of our biggest wins."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Rizzo, "He's been our rock. He's been rock solid to start the year. He's been that one constant. When Judgie missed those 10, 11 days or whatever, Anthony was right in the middle of things. He's hit for power. He's one of our leaders. He's been huge."

Neither Rizzo nor Judge expected the Reds to walk Judge.

"I walked in there expecting to hit, [and] having Rizz helps," Judge said.

"I thought it was possible," Boone said. "You're also a strike away from getting him. You've got a heavy one on deck. You're potentially putting the second run on base. As great as Judge is, you got a chance for a strikeout there. I wasn't surprised."

Starter Jhony Brito went four innings and gave up four runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out six. The walks hurt him -- two of the runs he allowed were scored by batters he walked.

The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single from Jake Fraley, who is now riding a 10-game on-base streak.

Judge tied the game with a two-out, 354-foot RBI single in the third. Yes, a 354-foot single. The ball left the bat at 115.1 mph, so it got to the base of the wall in left so quickly that Judge had no chance to motor into second.

Brito walked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the inning before Spencer Steer plated a run with an infield single.

"I tried to be too fine that inning," Brito said.

Brito had more two-out trouble in the fourth. Jose Barrero reached on an infield single. Luke Maile followed with his third home run of the year to give the Reds a 4-1 lead.

But New York promptly tied it in the fifth. With one out, Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit his second homer of the year. Ben Rortvedt and Torres followed with singles, and Judge promptly doubled in Rortvedt. That was it for Reds starter Luke Weaver. Alex Young took over and gave up a single to Rizzo. Torres scored to tie it, but Judge was thrown out at the plate on the play.

The Yankees did not manage a hit over the final four innings of regulation before their bats re-ignited in extras to clinch the series win.