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2 1st-inning HRs secure Yanks' sweep, 50th W

June 21, 2018

NEW YORK -- The Yankees did not waste any time in continuing their run at the all-time single-season homer record, cracking two big flies in the first inning Thursday afternoon. Combining offensive power with the bullpen's recent dominance, the Bombers topped the franchise that owns that very record and held

NEW YORK -- The Yankees did not waste any time in continuing their run at the all-time single-season homer record, cracking two big flies in the first inning Thursday afternoon. Combining offensive power with the bullpen's recent dominance, the Bombers topped the franchise that owns that very record and held on for a 4-3 win and a sweep of the Mariners at Yankee Stadium.
The sweep was New York's ninth of the year, a feat the team accomplished 10 times in the 2017 season. The Yanks have now won 17 of their past 21 games and reached the 50-win plateau, just before the rival Red Sox did the same vs. the Twins. The Astros were the first team to reach 50 wins Wednesday.
Since 1954, this Yankees team is the second-fastest to 50 wins (50-17 in 1998). The Yanks are 41-13 since April 21 - their best 54-game stretch since also going 41-13 from June 26-Aug. 22 in 1998.

"We've obviously played well and racked up a lot of wins, but you also realize every night how precious those wins are and how hard they are to come by, I don't care who we're playing," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "But when you look at it, it is, I think, gratifying to know that we've played pretty well against some of the elite teams and some of the hot teams. I think it just speaks to what we believe our team is capable of, and the confidence these guys have no matter who the opponent is."

LISTEN: Morning Lineup Podcast on 50-win teams
In his first appearance in the leadoff spot, Clint Frazier worked a single to right field in the first that set up Aaron Judge for a two-run blast to center field, the slugger's team-high 19th homer of the season. It came on a full-count 95.8-mph fastball from Mariners starter James Paxton, and it rocketed off of Judge's bat at 107.8 mph, traveling 382 feet over the wall in right-center field, according to Statcast™.
The homer nudged Judge ahead of teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who launched his 18th in walk-off fashion on Wednesday night. Stanton was robbed of a homer on Thursday by Seattle center fielder Mitch Haniger in the next at-bat. Balls hit with Stanton's exit velocity and launch angle combination of 108.6 mph and 29 degrees were homers 41 out of 41 times from 2015-17; thanks to Haniger, it went as a loud out.

"It was a great play," Boone said. "[Haniger] made it look pretty easy. He got to the ball efficiently. It was kind of a bummer for G. He hit two balls on the nose today and gets a home run taken back. Just a tip of your cap to Haniger today, he made a great play."
Three batters after the robbery, Miguel Andujar squeaked out a two-run homer of his own just over the right-field fence to give the Yanks a 4-0 lead. It was the team's 122nd homer of the season as it targets the 1997 Mariners' record of 264. Andujar also became the seventh Yankee with at least 10 homers this year.
"When I go to home plate, I go with my plan and try to hit the ball hard," Andujar said. "I don't think home run or anything specially, I just try to hit the ball hard."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Andujar is also the fifth Yanks rookie to hit 10 homers before the All-Star break; Judge hit 30 last season, Gleyber Torres has 14 this season, Joe DiMaggio hit 11 in 1936 and Nick Johnson cracked 11 in 2002. Andujar and Torres are the first Yanks rookies to accomplish the feat in the same season.
The Yankees' hot bats were silenced for the remainder of the game. Paxton recovered after giving up the two big flies and allowed just three more hits through the next four innings. Chasen Bradford and Nick Rumbelow finished out the game, throwing a combined three innings of one-hit, scoreless ball.
New York had to lean heavily on what's been an extremely dependable bullpen after starter Luis Severino grinded through 5 2/3 innings to pick up his 11th win of the year, but he allowed a two-run shot to Kyle Seager in the second and an RBI single to Ben Gamel that ended his day in the sixth.

The 'pen threw a combined 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit from Andrew Romine in the seventh off Player Page for David Robertson. The performance was highlighted by another stellar outing by Dellin Betances, who has now thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings and allowed just one hit with 22 strikeouts.

"I feel really good," Betances said. "Obviously, I'm trying to do the best I can every time I go out there. You're different every time. I feel like mindset-wise, I'm good. My stuff is there, so I got to continue to do my job and hand the ball to [Aroldis] Chapman. He's the best at what he does, so that's what I try to do."
Chapman came on in the ninth to record his 22nd save.

"We're built, in a lot of ways, around that great bullpen," Boone said. "They continue to deliver."
Severino's 11th victory ties Cleveland's Corey Kluber atop the Majors' wins leaderboard. The Yankees have now won in 13 consecutive home starts with Severino on the mound. This is the longest winning streak in one pitcher's home starts since winning 16 consecutive David Cone home starts from Aug. 17, 1997, to Aug. 27, 1998.
"You come to expect just him to go out and dominate time and time again. It's cool when he has a little bump in the road like today -- it's still good enough to get us through the middle innings and leaving with a lead. I think it's a tribute to just how good of a pitcher he's become, when he doesn't have his good command and he's still able to go out there and get a win." -- Boone, on Severino's outing

The Yankees will travel to St. Petersburg on Friday to open a three-game series against the Rays. Carsten Sabathia (4-2, 3.30 ERA) will take the mound in the opener. The left-hander is coming off his longest outing of the season, tossing 7 2/3 innings against the Rays last Sunday. Despite picking up the loss, Sabathia had a quality start, and he allowed three runs on 10 hits while recording a season-high 10 strikeouts. Right-hander Ryne Stanek (1-1, 2.21 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for