After several days of slogging along with mostly makeshift lineups, the Yankees got back a couple of regulars as reinforcements on Saturday.
The results were as immediate as you can get.
With Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton rejoining the revised batting order, new leadoff man Aaron Judge and the Yankees rattled off seven straight hits to start a game for the first time in nearly 32 years and cruised to a much-needed 10-3 victory over the Rays at the Stadium.
Donaldson and Stanton also stroked solo home runs in support of Jameson Taillon, who worked 7 ¹ / ₃ strong innings as the Yankees (84-56) extended their lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay back to 4 ¹ / ₂ games and clinched the season series (10-8) ahead of the final regular-season game between the division rivals on Sunday.
Taillon (13-4, 3.94 ERA) was charged with three runs on six hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts, over 99 pitches. Reliever Lou Trivino allowed two inherited runners to score on Harold Ramirez’s single in the eighth inning.
The previous time the Yankees opened a game with at least seven consecutive hits was when they managed eight in a row in a 15-3 win over the Orioles at the old Stadium on Sept. 25, 1990. That game featured home runs by Roberto Kelly and Randy Velarde.
Judge, the MLB leader with 55 home runs, knocked two of the Yankees’ eight singles overall in their six-run first inning Saturday, including the first of seven in a row to start the frame against former teammate Corey Kluber.
Judge finished 3-for-4, making it a career-best seven consecutive games in which he has reached base at least three times. That included the past two games out of the leadoff spot. That is the longest such streak by a Yankee since Mickey Mantle in June 1957.
“Just trying to get him up as much as possible, obviously, and trying to protect him as much as we can,” manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “We’re kind of searching for combinations, especially with a lot of guys out. Simple as that. ”
DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Benintendi and Jose Trevino (paternity leave) remain sidelined, but Stanton was back in the starting lineup for the first time since Monday after a foot issue. Batting second for the third time this season, Stanton followed Judge’s leadoff single to left with a liner to right for another hit, before Gleyber Torres opened the scoring with an RBI single to right.
Donaldson, activated off the paternity list before the game following the birth of his daughter, then lifted what he thought was a home run to right; he even made a pronounced bat flip. But replays showed the ball bounced off the top of the wall for what became another single. The hit loaded the bases because the runners ahead of Donaldson advanced just one base apiece.
Oswaldo Cabrera made it 3-0 with a two-run single to right, and Miguel Andujar added another run with a shot up the middle. Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on an infield hit for the seventh straight single to open the game. Additional runs scored on Kyle Higashioka’s grounder and Judge’s second hit of the inning to chase Kluber with a 6-0 deficit after he had recorded just two outs.
Donaldson didn’t flip his bat in his next plate appearance, but he homered into the right-field seats in the second inning against righty JT Chargois. His 13th homer of the season boosted the Yankees’ lead to seven. Donaldson also was hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch by Calvin Faucher in the seventh inning as the Yankees added two more runs.
Stanton’s solo home run – his 25th of the season, but first since July 15 – came against position player Christian Bethancourt in the eighth. The shot clanked off the left-field foul pole for a 10-3 lead.