Judge stuck at 60 HRs as Yankees rout Pirates 14-2

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Aaron Judge disappointed fans by staying stuck at 60 homers but doubled twice and scored on Oswaldo Cabrera‘s first-inning grand slam that started the New York Yankees to a 14-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

A day after hitting home run No. 60 to spark a stunning five-run, ninth-inning rally capped by Giancarlo Stanton‘s game-ending slam, Judge doubled on the first pitch to him in the first and fifth innings. Given another time up during an eight-run eighth inning, Judge walked on four pitches from rookie Eric Stout as the sellout crowd of 46,175 booed loudly.

Judge went 2 for 4 and with 14 games left and remained one home run shy of tying the American League record set by the Yankees’ Roger Maris in 1961. Judge leads the AL in average (.317), home runs and RBIs (128), in position to become the first Triple Crown winner in a decade.

Cabrera and Gleyber Torres had five RBIs each. Torres homered twice in the eighth inning, raising his season total to 23.

Applause started whenever Judge walked onto the on-deck circle, and fans stood and snapped photos. Maris’ sons and Judge’s family were in the stands.

He started the first against rookie Roasny Contreras (5-5) with a liner to left and began the fifth with a one-hopper over the left-field wall.

New York (90-58) closed in on its sixth straight postseason berth and 24th in 28 years. The Yankees began the night 5 1/2 games ahead of second-place Toronto in the AL East.

Cabrera made the Yankees the first team in major league history to end a game with a slam and hit another in the first inning of its next game, according to STATS. The only previous teams to hit slams in the last inning of a game and the first of the next were the 1955 Boston Red Sox and the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cabrera has three homers and 14 RBIs in 30 games since his debut on Aug. 17. With the bases loaded on Judge’s double and a pair of walks by Contreras, Cabrera drove a hanging slider into the right-field bleachers.

New York has four slams in four games against the Pirates this season, including in consecutive innings on July 6. The Yankees’ 10 slams this season are their most since 2012.

Harrison Bader had a two-run double in the big eighth and has five RBIs in his first two games with the Yankees.

Luis Severino (6-3) returned from a strained right lat muscle that had sidelined him since July 13 and allowed one run and two hits in five innings with six strikeouts. He reached 98.9 mph.

Contreras struck out a career-high 10, allowing six runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Ke'Bryan Hayes had a sacrifice fly and RBI single for Pittsburgh (55-94).

SLAMMIN’

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre won 4-3 at Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night as Ronald Guzman hit a seventh-inning slam.

TWO-FERS

Torres joined Joe DiMaggio, Joe Pepitone, Cliff Johnson and Alex Rodriguez (twice) as Yankees to hit two homers in an inning.

EYEBALLS

New York’s win Tuesday averaged 539,000 on the Yankees’ YES Network, its most prime-time viewers for a game other than against the Mets since 557,000 for an 11-inning game against Atlanta on Aug. 2, 2018. YES is averaing 352,000, up 23% from last year and its highest since 2011.

CRUZ CONTROL

Pittburgh’s Oneil Cruz was given a Paul O’Neill No. 21 jersey and spoke with O’Neill – whom he is named after – by video chat. O’Neill is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and broadcasts Yankees’ games from home in Ohio.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Scott Effross (shoulder strain) will be activated Thursday. … LHP Zack Britton finished his minor league rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery and hopes to be actived in a few days. … INF-OF Matt Carpenter (broken left foot) had an X-ray Tuesday and was cleared for more weight-bearing work. He’ll have another X-ray in nine or 10 days. … New York is trying to pick the right time to activate INF DJ LeMahieu (right second toe), who likely will not be 100%. … OF Aaron Hicks was feeling ill and left the ballpark before the game.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller (5-11, 4.03) opens a four-game series at home on Thursday against the Chicago Cubs’ RHP Hayden Wesneski (1-1, 2.30).

Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon (13-5, 4.04) starts Thursday’s opener of a four-game series against Boston and RHP Michael Wacha (11-1, 2.61), who is 8-0 in his last 12 starts.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).