Aaron Judge saves the Yankee with a big ninth-inning homer at Baltimore

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BALTIMORE – Not long after Luke Voit’s first career grand slam, the Yankees’ usual early party at Camden Yards started fizzling.

J.A. Happ gave up a pair of two-run homers, exiting his first 2020 start after four innings.

Gary Sanchez remained hitless for the new season and key scoring chances against the Orioles’ no-name bullpen came and went.

After Pedro Severino’s two-run homer off Jonathan Loaisiga put the Orioles ahead by a run in the eighth, Aaron Judge answered back in the ninth.

Judge’s monstrous one-out, three-run homer carried the Yankees to an 8-6 win, their 18th straight against the Orioles and 17th consecutive victory at the Inner Harbor ballpark.

That ninth-inning comeback came about an hour after the Yankees received good news on Gleyber Torres.

Drilled in the right elbow and replaced by Tyler Wade at shortstop, Torres’ X-rays came back negative and he was diagnosed with a contusion.


Just off the injured list due to arm fatigue, Orioles lefty John Means had a shaky 2020 debut.

After plunking both Aaron Judge and Torres in the first inning, Means served up an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton and Voit’s slam to center field for a fast, 5-0 Yankees lead.

Torres batted once more, flying out to the left field warning track, before Tyler Wade replaced him at shortstop in the Orioles’ half of the fourth inning.

Judge was just nicked and the pitch to Torres was not very far inside.

Leaning forward, Torres could not get his unprotected right arm out of the hitting zone, the ball connecting sharply near the point of his elbow.


Last year, Torres had routinely pained the Orioles.

A one-man wrecking crew against Baltimore pitching, Torres slashed .394/.467/1.045 with 13 home runs and 20 RBI in 18 games versus the O’s in 2019.

Camden Yards was Torres’ personal playground; he batted .400 and belted seven homers in 10 games here last season.

Before the game, Torres credited his ability to make “adjustments real quick when I faced the Orioles” as a reason for his success.

“I felt really comfortable,” and Baltimore’s pitchers needed to make Torres less comfortable, though there was nothing even slightly suspicious about Means’ pitch.


Stanton is raking in the early going, with two scorching singles, a double and a walk, making him 8-for-15 with four extra-base hits (two homers) as the Yankees (4-1) head into Friday’s home opener atop the AL East.

Right after a 94-minute rain delay, on to protect a 5-4 lead, Loaisiga walked the first two batters before getting a strikeout on a sharp slider and a Rio Ruiz grounder, turned into a double play.

Loaisiga tossed a quick seventh before Severino turned on an inside pitch in the eighth, launching it to left for a 6-5 Orioles lead.

Happ had found something in his delivery late last year, carrying better mechanics into the spring – until the COVID-19 shutdown interrupted that progress.

The veteran lefty was hurt by two-run shots from Hanser Alberto and Ruiz over the first two innings.

And Sanchez is off to a rough start at the plate, 0-for-15 with 10 strikeouts, including with runners at second and third to end the eighth.


On his Instagram page, Yankees manager Aaron Boone posted a heartfelt tribute to his legendary college coach at USC.

Mike Gillespie had “an amazing impact on my life and career,” Boone wrote of the two-time National Coach of the Year, who died this week at age 80.

Boone was one of 30 big league players coached by Gillespie, who guided the Trojans from 1987-2006. Gillespie both played (1961) on and coached (1998) USC to baseball national championships.

“I gained so much from him, from a baseball standpoint, but more from how he impacted me,” Boone said. “He touched my life in a huge way.”

During his minor league career with the Cincinnati Reds, Boone wore Gillespie’s No. 19, but was issued No. 17 once he reached the majors.

Traded to the Yankees in 2003, Boone was offered No. 17 by catcher John Flaherty, but Boone took the opportunity to switch to No. 19, the number he wore when he belted the pennant-winning homer against the Boston Red Sox.

(Former Phillies outfielder Greg Luzinski, a close family friend of the Boones, also wore No. 19).

Boone and Gillespie still exchanged occasional text messages when Boone became Yankees manager, with no prior professional coaching experience, before the 2018 season.

“He’d usually send me a long test after I got tossed out of a game. He tended to like that,” Boone said. “Such an important figure in my life. We lost a good one.”


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