NEW YORK â€” Yankees manager Joe Girardi recently compared Aaron Judge to Derek Jeter , noting their similar demeanour on and off the field.
In the batter’s box, Babe Ruth might be more like it.
Judge hit two more home runs after destroying a flat-screen television with a long drive during batting practice, and Brett Gardner also went deep twice to power the New York Yankees past the Toronto Blue Jays 11-5 on Tuesday night.
“It’s been extremely impressive,” Girardi said about Judge’s all-around game. “He’s just been a complete player.”
Injury substitute Aaron Hicks added a two-run homer , and Masahiro Tanaka (4-1) pitched into the seventh inning to win his fourth straight start.
Matt Holliday had three hits, including an early RBI double, as the Yankees jumped out to a 7-0 lead against Mat Latos and won for the 15th time in 20 games.
Before the game, Judge showed off his prodigious power with a shot to centre field that smashed a TV in one of Yankee Stadium’s new social gathering terraces beyond the bullpens and Monument Park in centre field.
“They were wearing me out about that,” Judge said. “They said they were going to take it out of my check.”
Steve Pearce went 4 for 4 with his first two homers for the Blue Jays, who had won a season-best three in a row. Latos (0-1) was ineffective in his third start with Toronto, allowing four homers and 10 hits in four innings.
Judge, the 6-foot-7 mountain of a rookie, took over the major league lead with his 12th home run , a three-run shot to left field on the 10th pitch of his at-bat in the seventh.
“He’s a big, strong boy,” Pearce said. “He’s a top-stepper. When he comes up to the plate you almost have to stop what you’re doing to watch.”
Last season, Judge batted .179 in the big leagues and struck out in half of his 84 at-bats.
“I thought he had some holes last year,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s had an amazing start to the season.”
Judge went the other way for a solo shot in the third, clearing the 314-foot sign in the right-field corner by a few rows with a pop fly that left a smiling Latos shaking his head and almost laughing behind the mound.
Estimated at 337 feet, the home run was the shortest of Judge’s big league career. He came in averaging 413 feet on his long balls this year, according to Major League Baseball’s Statcast system.
It was the second time in five games that Judge connected twice. He also drew two walks and has five homers in his last five games.
“Everybody’s on notice,” Gardner said. “They know what he’s capable of doing.”
And when the slugger made a fine catch in right field, some in the Bronx crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!”
“It’s great. Fans are excited. We’ve got a big lead and they’re going a little crazy out there,” Judge said.
Yankees reliever Dellin Betances entered in the seventh and the ball slipped right out of his hand on his first pitch for a balk that gave Toronto a run.
“Just kind of a weird situation. It’s never happened to me in a game,” he said. “Thank God it wasn’t a one-run ballgame.”
The ball dropped onto the grass just in front of the mound before trickling slowly toward home plate.
“Guy throwing 100 (mph) and it rolls 6 feet,” Girardi quipped.
START ME UP
Gardner led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored three times. He has four home runs this season â€” a pair of two-homer performances in the past four games.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (elbow inflammation) has been throwing on flat ground in Florida but has not yet been scheduled for a rehab outing, a team spokesman said.
Yankees: C Austin Romine was removed before the seventh with cramping in his right groin. He grimaced while running from second to third on Chase Headley’s RBI single in the sixth, but Girardi said he didn’t expect Romine’s status to change the team’s plans for rehabbing catcher Gary Sanchez. “We think Romine was just more dehydrated than anything. He was tested after the game. The strength was there,” Girardi said. “Obviously, we’ll know a lot more tomorrow.” … Sanchez (strained right biceps) went 2 for 4 with a home run, an RBI double and two strikeouts in his first Triple-A rehab game. He could be activated from the disabled list for this weekend’s series at the Chicago Cubs. … Hicks played centre field instead of Jacoby Ellsbury, diagnosed with a bruised nerve in his left elbow. … Slumping 1B Greg Bird was put on the 10-day DL with a bruised right ankle.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (2-2, 2.97 ERA) pitches the rubber game of the series Wednesday night. Stroman, who grew up nearby on Long Island, is 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA in eight career starts against the Yankees.
Yankees: CC Sabathia (2-1, 4.34) gave up seven earned runs last Friday against Baltimore, doubling his total from his first four starts this season. The 36-year-old lefty is 15-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 26 games against Toronto.
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Mike Fitzpatrick, The Associated Press