Aaron Judge stays hot with huge night to lead Yankees over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — The party line around the Yankees in recent weeks, as Aaron Judge began to emerge from his slow start to the season, was that he was still not locked in yet. 

The Yankees captain still may not admit it, but his at-bats recently indicate otherwise, with Wednesday providing the latest proof. 

Judge crushed his 11th home run of the season, a 467-foot moonshot, and added three doubles and a walk to lead the Yankees past the Twins, 4-0, at Target Field. 

Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees celebrates his solo home run with teammate Alex Verdugo #24 in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on May 15, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images

Marcus Stroman aided the cause by tossing six shutout innings to keep the Twins (24-18) in check, while the Yankees (29-15) won for the ninth time in their last 11 games. 

It was less than two weeks ago that Aaron Boone was asked again about Judge’s quiet start, and the Yankees manager continued to preach patience.

Boone insisted that somebody was eventually going to pay for it “big-time,” that Judge would “get it going and look out when he does.” 

It didn’t exactly take Nostradamus to predict that, but as Boone suggested, opposing pitchers are now feeling the pain. 

After Wednesday’s 4-for-4 effort, Judge is now batting .383 (23-for-60) with a 1.350 OPS and seven home runs across his last 17 games.

During that span, he has raised his average from .178 to .255 and OPS from .674 to .926. 

Aaron Judge has been on a tear at the plate for the Yankees. Getty Images

Judge’s biggest game of the season, spearheading the Yankees’ 13-hit attack, started on the first pitch he saw.

In the first inning, Twins right-hander Pablo Lopez threw him a 95 mph fastball down the middle and Judge pounced on it, clobbering it a few rows deep into the third deck in left field. 

The 467-foot blast was the third-longest in the majors this season, trailing Judge’s own 473-foot shot against the Astros last week and another 473-footer from Mike Trout. 

In the second inning, the Yankees scored in the exact same fashion they did in Tuesday’s second inning.

Judge has turned things around after a cold start to 2024. Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

They strung together three straight singles from Gleyber Torres, Jose Trevino and Oswaldo Cabrera before Anthony Volpe delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Torres scored easily without a play at the plate as center fielder Willi Castro appeared to think it was the third out of the inning instead of the second. 

After Castro caught the actual third out one batter later, he turned and fired the ball out of the stadium. 

Marcus Stroman delivered another good start for the Yankees. Getty Images

Judge came back up in the third inning and ripped a double off the right-center field wall.

Two singles by Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton — who both recorded multi-hit games — later, the Yankees led 3-0. 

While Judge’s fifth-inning double to the gap in left-center went to waste, he padded the Yankees’ lead in the seventh inning.

After Juan Soto doubled off the right field wall, Judge smoked a laser to center field over the head of Castro for an RBI double to make it 4-0. 

Alex Verdugo of the New York Yankees celebrates his single against the Minnesota Twins in the third inning. Getty Images

That was plenty of support for Stroman, who had to battle at times across his six innings of work but allowed only six base runners (two hits, three walks and an error) and struck out a pair.

He started and finished strong, with the first and sixth innings being his only clean frames. 

It marked the second time this season Stroman has tossed six scoreless innings. 

The Twins’ best chance against him came in the second inning, when a Volpe fielding error and two walks loaded the bases with two outs.

But Stroman got Jose Miranda to ground out to end the threat. 

Luke Weaver relieved Stroman and continued to look like a weapon, tossing two shutout innings to extend his scoreless streak to 17 ¹/₃ innings.

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