CINCINNATI (AP) — Aaron Judge has been scorching hot since a mild hip strain sent him to the injured list earlier this month.
The reigning AL MVP hit his seventh home run in as many games and the New York Yankees defeated the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 on Friday night.
“When you’ve got Anthony Rizzo hitting behind you, who’s been red hot as well, you’re going to get good pitches to hit,” Judge said.
Rizzo also homered for the surging Yankees, who improved to 9-3 in their last 12 games.
Judge, who received a standing ovation from the many Yankees fans in attendance following his pregame batting session, wasted little time making his presence felt in the teams’ first meeting in Cincinnati since 2017. Judge took the fifth pitch he saw from Reds starter Ben Lively 431 feet to center field for his 13th home run of the season.
“It’s just very reminiscent of what we saw last year,” Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt said of Judge. “You see the same guy. I don’t think anything’s changed from last year. When you see him catch hot like this, just watch out. It’s definitely a reason for concern for the rest of the league.”
The homer was Judge’s only hit of the night, but he has homered in five of the last seven games — including hitting two in two games during that stretch.
With New York still leading 1-0 lead before the bottom half of the fifth inning, the umpires administered a foreign substance check on Schmidt (2-4).
“When I went out there for the fifth inning, the third-base umpire checked me,” Schmidt said. “He checked my hands and said they were completely fine. He checked the back of my wrist where the glove slides onto, and I’m using a black glove, and there’s like black fur inside the glove.
"Throughout the game, sweating and rosin, it kind of built up on the back of my wrist where the fur sits.”
The umpires allowed Schmidt to stay on the mound after Schmidt cleaned off his wrist. Reds manager David Bell was ejected while disputing the umpires’ decision to allow Schmidt to continue his scoreless outing. Cincinnati had just three hits off Schmidt at that point.
“David was upset that we made him clean it off and not eject him," crew chief Brian O’Nora said via the pool reporter. “I explained the situation. He kept going. I told him it was enough and he kept going. I had no choice but to eject him.”
Bell declined to discuss the ejection after the game.
“I think it was probably obvious what happened, and I’m just going to leave it at that," the Reds manager said. "We don’t benefit from me talking about this, so I’m not going to talk about it. But it was obvious what happened.”
Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán was suspended for 10 games Wednesday by Major League Baseball and fined for violating the sport’s prohibition of foreign substances on the mound.
“I get it,” Schmidt said. “The league is hypersensitive about it right now. You see it all across the league where guys are getting more extensive on the searches, which is completely fine. I have nothing to hide.”
Lively (1-2) was pulled in the sixth after walking Judge on six pitches. Lively allowed just two hits, including Judge’s first-inning home run, while compiling a career-high eight strikeouts as the Red lost for the fourth time in five games.
Following Lively’s exit, Rizzo tagged Reds reliever Ian Gibaut with his 10th homer of the season to score Judge and make it 3-0.
Jake Fraley drove in two runs on a double off reliever Jimmy Cordero in the sixth to chop New York’s lead to 3-2.
The Yankees added three runs in the ninth, including a two-run double by Kyle Higashioka.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game he got emotional during the drive to the ballpark.
Boone, who made his big league debut with the Reds in 1997, returned to Cincinnati for the first time as a manager. It was also Boone’s first visit to the city since the All-Star Game weekend in 2015 when he was an analyst for ESPN.
“This place was a huge, huge part of my life,” Boone said. It will forever be a in my heart and a special place to me. Every time I get to come here, it means a lot to me.”
Boone played for the Reds until he was traded to the Yankees in 2003. Boone’s older brother, Bret, also played in Cincinnati from 1994-98. Their father, Bob, was the Reds’ manager from 2001-03.
Yankees: INF Oswald Peraza (sprained ankle) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list after the game and optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Reds: OF TJ Friedl (mild oblique strain) took some swings and ran before the game. Bell said Friedl has not shown any symptoms of the left oblique strain since being diagnosed with the injury on May 13. Cincinnati placed Friedl on the 10-day injured list on Monday.
The Yankees announced after the game they acquired OF Greg Allen from Boston Red Sox for minor league RHP Diego Hernández and cash considerations.
It’s the second stint with the Yankees for the 30-year-old Allen, who played in New York in 2021. He also has played with Cleveland, San Diego and Pittsburgh during his six big league seasons.
Reds RHP Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.26 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball Saturday in the second game of the three-game series. The Yankees had yet to announce their starting pitcher.
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