Yankees offense flourishes with Judge’s vengeful blast, Soto’s clutch hit against Tigers

Juan Soto and Aaron Judge hit home runs as the Yankees down the Tiger 5-2 at Yankee Stadium on May 5, 2024.

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On a rain-drenched afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto exhibited the Yankees’ immaculate prowess, driving the team to a resounding 5-2 victory over the Tigers, completing a series sweep. Judge, returning after his first career ejection, wasted no time in leaving his mark, launching a home run off Tarik Skubal, the ace pitcher for Detroit, in his initial at-bat.

Soto, renowned for his clutch performances, delivered a pivotal bases-clearing double in the seventh inning, breaking the deadlock and securing the win for the Yankees. Despite relentless inclement weather, the game was called after eight innings, with the Yankees emerging victorious.

This series conquest stands as a robust rejoinder to their recent stumble against the Orioles, elevating the Yankees to a tie for the most wins in Major League Baseball, alongside the Dodgers and Phillies, boasting an impressive 23-13 record.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge on revenge spree

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AP

Following his ejection in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 5-3 triumph, a consequence of disputing a called third strike with umpire Ryan Blakney – marking the Yankees captain’s first ejection since Don Mattingly‘s on May 13, 1994 – Judge swiftly returned to the batter’s box on Sunday, wasting no time in asserting his influence. He promptly launched a Skubal delivery deep into the right-field bleachers, initiating the Yankees’ scoring.

Turning on a 97 mph fastball from the left-handed pitcher, Judge propelled a 109.3 mph, 399-foot opposite-field home run, his seventh of the season. Drawing inspiration from Soto, a prominent hitter known for driving the ball across all fields, The Yankees slugger showcased his own ability to do so. Soto expressed satisfaction in witnessing Judge’s authoritative opposite-field stroke.

Despite a somewhat lackluster start to the season, Judge maintained control over Skubal throughout the game. Despite Skubal’s 12 strikeouts, Judge managed to strike a double into the right-center-field gap off the Tigers’ ace in the sixth inning, marking his first multi-extra-base hit game since facing the D-backs on April 3.

Reflecting on their competitive exchanges, the Yankees captain relished the back-and-forth nature of their matchup. He detailed his initial success in securing a hit off the pitcher, followed by being struck out in the subsequent at-bat, noting the sequence. Judge expressed gratitude for the chance to compete against such high-caliber players, particularly acknowledging the pitcher’s status as an ace of the team.

“It’s fun going back and forth,” the Yankees star said. “I got him the first time, then he comes back and strikes me out, and I was like, ‘All right, I’ll remember that.’ It’s fun competing against guys like that, especially a young ace of the team. I’m looking forward to more battles with him, that’s for sure.”

Soto joins the tandem, secure Yankees win

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AP

Before Sunday’s game, Juan Soto‘s performance in run-scoring situations was truly exceptional. With 24 at-bats, he boasted an impressive .417/.484/.833 slash line, driving in 19 runs and hitting three home runs.

Soto acknowledges the potent partnership he forms with Judge in the lineup. “Judge’s presence doesn’t concern me,” Soto commented. “Batting ahead of him is always a pleasure, and I’m well aware of his hitting prowess.”

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Soto’s bases-clearing double became the pivotal moment in a rain-shortened, eight-inning clash, securing a notable series sweep with a 5-2 victory over the Tigers.

Reflecting on his clutch performance, Soto revealed his fondness for high-pressure situations. He explained that such moments fuel him with adrenaline, driving him to excel on the field. Soto expressed a strong desire to shine in these crucial instances, often leading to successful outcomes.

With one out and the bases loaded, the Yankees entrusted Soto to deliver. Tigers manager A.J. Hinch called upon left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin, a formidable opponent for left-handed batters.

Up against the challenging matchup, Soto rose to the occasion. Despite Chafin’s dominance against lefties, the Yankees slugger connected with a 2-1 sinker down the right-field line, securing the Yankees’ lead for good.

Soto’s encounter with Chafin exemplified, as many of his plate appearances do, his unmatched mastery of the strike zone. Though the sinker he capitalized on grazed just below his knees, Chafin had previously secured a called strike with a sinker that barely touched the zone’s lower edge two pitches earlier. This prompted Soto to adjust and ensure he could handle a pitch in that precise location.

After that pivotal hit, Soto’s already impressive numbers with runners in scoring position soared to even greater heights. Now boasting a .440/.500/.880 slash line in such situations, he has driven in 22 runs. With a total of 28 RBIs this season, he ranks fourth among all Major League players.

Soto’s knack for delivering in high-pressure moments has defined his young career. His discerning eye at the plate, combined with his readiness to adapt during the game, has enabled him to excel when the outcome hangs in the balance. By consistently performing in clutch situations, Soto has cemented his status as one of baseball’s most feared hitters, particularly when the stakes are highest.

As the season unfolds, Soto’s ongoing success with runners in scoring position will undoubtedly be pivotal in the Yankees’ pursuit of their ultimate goal. His teammates and fans have grown accustomed to relying on his remarkable ability to step up when it matters most, confirming his role as a genuine game-changer in the heart of the Yankees’ lineup.

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