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Yankees power past Royals after 8th inning onslaught

Aaron Judge bet on himself this spring when he turned down a deal that would have been worth $230 million. The slugger is making that pay off and if the Yankees want to keep him, they are going to pay a steep price now. Judge hit two home runs Friday night, including his second grand slam of the season, driving in six runs and powering the Bombers to an 11-5 come-from-behind win over the Royals at the Stadium.

It was the 29th come-from-behind win of the season for the Yankees (68-33), who maintained the best record in the American League. It was just the sixth time this season they had come back and won after trailing at the end of the seventh inning.

Judge’s second of the night, a 370-foot shot, capped an eight-run, eighth-inning rally, which began when Andrew Benintendi, in his second game as a Yankee,  “singled,” on a ground ball to first in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in a run. With the bases loaded, Scott Barlow walked in the game-tying run for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who singled in the go-ahead run.

The 30-year old Judge hit his major-league leading 40th home run in the third inning off Royals lefty Kris Bubic The 449-foot shot soared into left-center field and scored two runs. Number 41, his second, capped the Yankees’ eight-run eighth inning. No other hitter has more than 32 so far.

It came less than 24 hours after he hit his 39th, a game-winning, third-career “walk-off,” home run. He has hit five homers in his last five games, eight in his last eight and 11 in his last 13 games. He is now on pace to hit 66 home runs this season. The franchise record is 61 set in 1961 by Roger Maris and it still stands as the American League record.

In 2017, when Judge hit his career-high 52 home runs en route to winning the American League Rookie of the Year award, he hit his 40th and 41st home runs on Sept. 10 in his 142nd game of that season. Friday night was the Yankees 101st game and the 98th game he has played in.

Of the 38 runs the Yankees have scored over their last eight games, Judge has driven in 19 of them.

He also robbed a home run on Friday night. MJ Melendez led off the game with a deep fly ball, 357 feet to the right-field wall. Judge leapt up and caught it on the very edge of his glove, “snow coning,” it to save a run for Gerrit Cole.

It’s been a dominant season for Judge, who came into it playing for a contract when he hits the free agent market at the end of the year after turning down an extension offer on Opening Day.

So far, the bet on himself is paying off that he will get money in the neighborhood that the Yankees gave Cole, who has yet to have the impact on this franchise that Judge has.

Cole allowed five earned runs on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine. The right-hander was coming off his third loss of the season, having given up a season-high nine hits and three earned runs against the Orioles.

With two outs in the fifth, Cole could not slam the door after some mistakes behind him.

Nicky Lopez’s chopper bounced over the glove of a sliding Kiner-Flaefa into center field for what was ruled a single. On the next play, MJ Melendez hit an infield grounder to first base. Anthony Rizzo fielded it and tried to throw it back-handed to Cole at first. The Royals catcher beat it out. Neither were ruled an error, but both were costly.

Whit Merrifield then lined a single into right field to score two runs and Salvador Perez, playing in his first game since June 24 surgery to repair a ligament in his thumb, crushed a 424-foot shot off the Yankees ace. It was the 17th home run that Cole allowed this season, seven shy of his total in 30 starts last season.

Aroldis Chapman, in his new undefined role, pitched a scoreless sixth inning and Albert Abreu, who had been released by the Royals earlier this season, pitched a scoreless eighth  inning.


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