CINCINNATI — On a road trip that has included just about everything — and still has one more game left on Sunday — at least one thing has remained consistent for the Yankees.
Pitch to Aaron Judge at your own risk.
Judge remained on fire Saturday, going 4-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs, including a single that drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of a 7-4 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
With the newly acquired Greg Allen, who arrived at the stadium after the game had already begun, on third base and one out in the top of the 10th, the Reds decided to go after Judge.
Reliever Ian Gibaut got the reigning AL MVP to swing through two pitches, but Judge didn’t miss the third, lining it over the third baseman’s head for the 5-4 lead.
Manager Aaron Boone thought it was possible the Reds (19-26) might intentionally walk Judge, but the slugger wouldn’t allow himself to think that way.
“If you have that kind of mindset, you’re defeated before you even step in there,” Judge said. “I walked in there expecting to get the job done and thankfully I was able to do that and pass it over to Rizz.”
Anthony Rizzo followed with a two-run homer, his second in as many days (both off Gibaut) to make it 7-4, with the Yankees (28-20) well on their way to their 10th win in their last 13 games.
“You see in some of our biggest wins, [Rizzo] is right in the middle of it,” Judge said.
In 12 games since coming off the injured list, Judge is hitting .378 (17-for-45) with seven home runs, 18 RBIs and a 1.402 OPS. His go-ahead single Saturday was his softest hit of the day, registering at 85.8 mph off the bat after recording exit velocities of 115.1 mph, 103.9 mph and 89.9 mph on his first three hits.
Rizzo, meanwhile, has been the Yankees’ rock all season. After going 2-for-5 with three RBIs on Saturday, he is now batting .303 with 11 home runs and a .916 OPS on the year.
His latest blast gave Ryan Weber some more breathing room as he pitched a perfect bottom of the 10th for the save, once again helping out a taxed bullpen.
After Jhony Brito was tagged for four runs across four innings, Ron Marinaccio, Michael King, Clay Holmes and Weber combined for six scoreless innings to give the offense time to come back from a 4-1 deficit and then win it in the 10th.
“It was awesome,” said Ben Rortvedt, who went 2-for-4 with a double and scored twice in his Yankees debut. “Just look around the dugout, see who we’re surrounded with — never out of a game. Bunch of big names. Just trying to do my best to pull my own weight and keep us in the game.”
Isiah Kiner-Falefa also homered for the second time in as many starts, this one sparking the Yankees’ three-run fifth inning that tied the score at four.
It was the first of six straight hits by the Yankees, and while they missed out on a chance to take the lead when Judge was thrown out at the plate, it did not ultimately cost them.
That’s because after the bullpen’s continued strong work got the game to extra innings, the Yankees had it set up exactly the way they wanted, with the automatic runner on second base and the top of their order due up.
By the time Rizzo’s homer left the yard, a large portion of the sellout crowd of 41,374 had it sounding like The Bronx.
“I think we feed off the energy,” Kiner-Falefa said. “It’s a good feeling when you know that when we’re in town, everybody wants to be here.”
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