Judge hits 51st HR as Yankees snap skid, top Angels 7-4

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Aaron Judge is rolling toward September with Roger Maris firmly in sight.

Two impressive homers at Angel Stadium have moved the Yankees slugger two steps closer to baseball history.

Judge hit a three-run shot in the fourth inning for his 51st homer of the season, and New York snapped its three-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Judge connected for the second straight night at the Big A, driving a high fastball from Mike Mayers (1-1) into the elevated right-field stands. Judge has five homers in his last eight games, and leads the majors with 113 RBIs.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Yankees starter Jameson Taillon, who left after two innings when he was hit in the forearm by a line drive. “Feels like any time he’s out there, he’s got a chance to do something special. Doesn’t matter what scouting report you have, or whether you execute your pitch or not. He’s just so good that you can make a good pitch, and he can still hit it out and all over the park.”

Judge had three hits and scored two runs in front of an Orange County crowd packed with Yankees fans who gave several ovations to the California-born slugger attempting to chase down Maris’ AL home run record of 61 set in 1961.

He’s right on pace: Judge and Maris both had 51 homers through the Yankees’ first 130 games.

“Got a pitch out over the plate, a couple of guys on, and drove it out of the park,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “That’s what he does. He’s in a groove right now. You just see, watching his swing from the side, how on time everything is.”

Andrew Benintendi and Anthony Rizzo hit early solo homers for New York, which lost Taillon to a bruised right forearm when he was hit by Magneuris Sierra‘s liner to end the second.

“It’s not bad,” Taillon said. “It’s gotten a lot better. I was a little worried there at first. Had some pretty quick swelling in there. I was in some pain, and then got X-rays, found out it was negative, and I’m already seeing some improvement.”

Six Yankees relievers finished, and 27-year-old rookie Greg Weissert (1-0) earned his first major league win. The Long Island-born Fordham product replaced Taillon and retired the next six Angels hitters in order.

“It feels great to put it behind me,” Weissert said while thinking of his rough major league debut, in which he gave up three runs while getting one out in Oakland last week. “It was definitely something to think about, but I knew I got called up for a reason.”

Max Stassi and Mike Ford homered for the Angels, whose four-game winning streak ended despite Touki Toussaint’s five innings of one-hit relief.

Shohei Ohtani doubled and singled in his third consecutive multi-hit game for Los Angeles, which hasn’t won five straight since April.

Mayers struggled in the converted reliever’s fifth career start, giving up eight hits and five earned runs in four innings.

“He probably just left a few too many balls in the middle,” Nevin said. “He’s not afraid. He’s going right after hitters.”

Benintendi homered in the first inning and Rizzo followed with his 30th homer of the season in the second, both left-handed batters connecting to right field.

Stassi ended his 1-for-40 slump in the second with his eighth homer, his first since Aug. 5.

But the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the third and scored two runs when Ford couldn’t field a bouncing throw from Luis Rengifo at first.

TAILLON TAGGED

Taillon yielded two hits and two runs in his abbreviated start, striking out two. He was hit in the head by a line drive in 2016 and again in 2019, but he feels optimistic after negative X-rays and decreased swelling. He’ll get treatment Wednesday, and hopes to make his next start.

“We caught a nice break, it seems, for once in my career,” Taillon said.

USED FORD

Continuing his hot start with the Angels, Ford homered for the second straight night against the organization that employed him from 2012 until last season, when he was traded to Tampa Bay. Ford belonged to a whopping seven different teams in the ensuing 14 months, but he hadn’t hit any homers since the Yankees traded him until these two shots for the Halos.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: OF Harrison Bader is hitting off a tee and running. He could begin playing in games next week. The trade-deadline acquisition has yet to play for New York due to a foot injury that has sidelined him since June.

Angels: RHP Michael Lorenzen will make one last rehab start before he returns, Nevin said. Lorenzen has been out since early July with discomfort in his pitching shoulder.

UP NEXT

The series concludes with two Orange County natives on the mound. Newport Beach’s Gerrit Cole (10-6, 3.31 ERA) returns to his boyhood stadium to face Mission Viejo’s Patrick Sandoval (4-9, 3.05), who will make his first career appearance against the Yankees after back-to-back excellent starts on the road.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.