Yankees rotation ends historic streak but Judge’s hot bat continues making records

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits a home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif.

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The New York Yankees continued their winning ways Thursday night despite a setback to their starting rotation. Hours after learning Clarke Schmidt’s injury would force him to miss around two months with a strained lat, Carlos Rodon stepped up with six solid innings in an 8-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.

Rodon allowed a solo homer in the second but didn’t falter, retiring 14 straight batters before running into trouble in the seventh. The left-hander was charged with three earned runs, making him the first Yankees starter since May 11 to allow more than two runs. This snapped their record streak of 16 consecutive games with the starter pitching at least five innings while giving up two or fewer runs.

However, Yankees manager Aaron Boone wasn’t overly concerned, saying he’d “sign up” for Rodon’s outing every time and expressed hope the team could start another streak the next day.

His confidence largely stemmed from the energy boost to the Yankees coming from a two-run blast in the fourth by Aaron Judge that provided New York a 2-1 lead. The 433-foot homer was Judge’s 18th of the season, tying him for the major league lead. He also had 12 homers and 12 doubles in May, joining Yankees great Lou Gehrig as the only player in franchise history to achieve that feat in a single month.

Judge acknowledged it was a “good month” but aimed to repeat the performance in June. He agreed the Yankees were “flat” in the series against the Angels but did what was needed to turn it around. Rodon praised Judge’s performance, saying “That’s why he’s the captain.”

By winning Thursday’s rubber game against the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees clinched a series victory – their 14th in the first 18 series of the season. This marked only the seventh time in franchise history that the Yankees have won that many series through the first 58 games.

After improving to 4-2 on their 10-day, nine-game West Coast swing, the Yankees headed to San Francisco to finish their longest road trip of the season this weekend. 

While the Yankees‘ streak of starters pitching at least five innings while allowing two or fewer runs ended at 16 games, manager Aaron Boone downplayed its significance. Boone said he’d happily take Carlos Rodon’s six-inning, three-run outing every time, adding he hoped his club could start a new streak the following day.

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, right, celebrates with Alex Verdugo after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif.
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Another streak that came to an end was Anthony Volpe‘s career-best 21-game hitting streak. But instead of chasing a hit with the bases loaded in the seventh, the rookie worked a walk to force in a run for a 4-1 Yankees lead. 

Juan Soto followed by delivering what Boone called the “knockout punch” – a bases-clearing triple down the right-field line off reliever Jose Suarez that extended New York’s advantage to 7-1.

Rodon continued his bounce-back campaign by pitching into the seventh for the fourth time in his last five starts, lowering his season ERA to 3.09. After allowing a solo homer to Long Island native Logan O’Hoppe in the second, he retired 14 straight batters.

Though the Yankees will be without Clarke Schmidt for an extended period, Judge expressed confidence the team would find a way to keep winning. Judge called the Yankees’ rotation “the best in the game right now” and said despite the bad news about Schmidt, he knew “guys will definitely pick up the slack and keep it rolling.”

Aaron Judge joins Yankees elite club

With his two-run shot off Patrick Sandoval (2-8) in the fourth inning, Judge joined Lou Gehrig as the only Yankees to have at least 12 homers and 12 doubles in a calendar month. Gehrig accomplished the feat in July 1930. Judge’s 18 home runs on the season are tied with Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson and Houston’s Kyle Tucker for the major league lead. The blast also equaled Judge with Babe Ruth and Gehrig for the most home runs by a Yankee in a single month at 24.

Aaron Judge continued his torrid home run pace, blasting his 275th career homer in the New York Yankees’ 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night. The two-run shot in the fourth inning off Patrick Sandoval tied Judge with Jorge Posada for eighth on the franchise’s all-time list. 

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge watches the ball go for a two-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif.
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Judge’s 18th homer of the season traveled 433 feet to left field at 110 mph, driving in Juan Soto to put the Yankees up 2-1. The blast tied the Yankees’ captain with Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson and Houston’s Kyle Tucker for the major league lead in home runs this year.

The slugger also tied Ruth and Gehrig for second place in the franchise record for most extra-base hits in a month. At 24, he is only next to Joe DiMaggio.

While Judge got off to a relatively slow start, he has turned it on over the last month. Entering Thursday, he was hitting .273 over his previous 10 games. The 31-year-old said after the game that despite the hot streak at the plate, he’s just focused on doing his job and helping the team win each night.

Also, Judge became MLB’s player with the most barrels in a calendar month in the Stastcast era.

Though pleased with his recent numbers, Judge insisted individual stats mean little compared to team success. He credited the Yankees’ talented lineup for creating opportunities for everyone to produce.

Boone praised his team’s resilience, saying the Yankees found a way to grind out a win despite not playing their best. He felt they were due for a breakout offensive performance like this one.

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