NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge felt the electricity as he rounded the bases on Wednesday evening, having delivered the knockout blow on a night when the Yankees had their building rocking like October some five months early. For the hottest team in baseball, climbing to the top of the American League East was the easy part -- now they intend to stay there.
Brett Gardner's two-run triple and Judge's two-run blast highlighted a four-run eighth inning as the Yankees rallied to topple closer Craig Kimbrel, securing their eighth consecutive win and overtaking first place in the American League East with a memorable 9-6 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
"You can't hear anything in that situation," Judge said. "Gardy's triple, that home run, I couldn't hear anything. You're just running off adrenaline there, excitement, and you feel like a little kid out there again. It's pretty cool."
The Yankees have won 17 of 18, marking their finest 18-game stretch since 1953, while claiming ownership of the best record in the Majors at 26-10. And they are dominating at home. The Yankees have won their past 11 home games (since April 21), extending their franchise mark for the current Yankee Stadium. The Yanks have outscored opponents, 78-33, during the current streak. It is their longest home winning streak since April 25 to June 1, 1985 (12-0) at the original Yankee Stadium.
They have gained 8 1/2 games on the Red Sox in the past 19 days, a dizzying accomplishment that Judge said the Yankees have not had time to reflect on. After each victory, it has been on to the next.
"That's just who those guys are, man. They expect to be really good," manager Aaron Boone said. "They expect to be a great team. You're coming to work and you're coming to grind the other team down, and they've done a great job of that. Even when we were a little bit slow out of the gates, nothing really changed. We're going to approach every single day, every single pitch, every single inning, in a very workmanlike way."
• Gardy sparks offense with 3 extra-base hits
Hanley Ramirez had given Boston the lead in the seventh inning, teeing off on a flat Chad Green slider for a titanic seventh-inning blast to the second deck in left field. But Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holder combined to pitch out of trouble in the seventh, escaping a second-and-third, one-out jam without damage.
Neil Walker doubled to open the New York eighth against Matt Barnes, advancing on a groundout before a walk to Gleyber Torres prompted Kimbrel's entry. Gardner's booming triple -- his third extra-base hit of the game -- put the Yankees on top before Judge paid a visit to Monument Park, effectively putting the game away.
"I'm trying to drive a ball gap-to-gap, somewhere in the outfield," Gardner said. "Sac fly, worst case scenario. That's what I'm trying to do. It doesn't always work out that way when you're facing somebody like that. I'm just fortunate to get a good pitch to hit. He fell behind 3-0, I saw quite a few pitches from him, squared up a fastball and put it in the gap."
Masahiro Tanaka labored through 5 1/3 innings, serving up a pair of homers while permitting four runs and eight hits. Giancarlo Stanton continued to pound Boston pitching, improving to 10-for-19 with two homers and seven RBIs in five games this year. Judge made a strong effort on both sides of the ball, contributing three hits and a diving catch in right-center field.
Judge got the Yankees off to a quick start against Rick Porcello, driving home the first run of the game after Gardner's leadoff double. Mitch Moreland cracked a two-run blast to the right-field bullpen off Tanaka in the second inning, but Stanton restored New York's lead with a laser two-run double down the right-field line off Porcello in the third.
"It just goes back to us taking it one day at a time, especially the production we've been getting out of the bottom of our lineup," Judge said. "Guys like Gleyber, [Miguel] Andujar, Walker coming through the past couple of games. It's been incredible. When you've got the guys at the bottom of the lineup coming through like that, now you've got to face Stanton and Sanchez and Didi [Gregorius]. It's a tough go right there, so it's been fun."
Andrew Benintendi trimmed the Red Sox's deficit to a run with a fifth-inning solo shot off Tanaka, marking Benintendi's sixth homer in 15 career games at Yankee Stadium. Tanaka stayed in to start the sixth and allowed a leadoff double to Xander Bogaerts, who scored Boston's fourth run when Eduardo Nunez lifted a sacrifice fly to greet Green.
"Obviously we're doing something special here," Tanaka said. "If I look at my performance, I think I can definitely do a better job. Hopefully I'll come back strong next outing and try to contribute in a bigger way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Holding the line: Holder picked up his second big league victory as a result of his stellar eighth inning work, relieving Shreve with runners at second and third and one out. Holder struck out Christian Vazquez on a 2-2 slider before an intentional walk loaded the bases. He then induced Benintendi to hit a grounder up the middle to Gregorius, ending the inning.
"I'm excited; just trying to come in and do my job and limit the damage and get out of the inning clean so our offense can get back out there and hit," Holder said.
Each of the Yankees' last eight games (since May 1) have come against teams in sole possession or tied for first place at the start of play, with the Yanks going 8-0 in those games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the second-longest winning streak against solely first-place teams in Major League history. The Reds won 10 such games from June 21-July 1, 1999.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Torres and Gregorius teamed to turn a stellar double play in the Boston fourth, prompting Tanaka to applaud into his glove. Torres fielded Sandy Leon's grounder and whipped a throw to Gregorius, who anchored his right foot on the second-base bag and fired off-balance in time to double up the Red Sox catcher.
HE SAID IT
"It got my attention. I looked around a little bit in that inning. It's May and it's bedlam." -- Boone, on the crowd reaction in the eighth
Carsten Sabathia (2-0, 1.39 ERA) will draw the start on Thursday in an MLB Network Showcase game as the Yankees and Red Sox complete their three-game series at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Sabathia is 2-0 with an 0.39 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list, with the Yankees winning all four contests. Boston will counter with Eduardo Rodriguez, who has given up five earned runs in each of his past two starts.