Tyler Austin said he’d watched it “a hundred times” since it happened almost a year ago: He and Aaron Judge, each in his first major-league plate appearance, hitting back-to-back home runs. The difference was, on the one-year anniversary of that improbable feat on Aug. 13, Judge was the Yankees’ established rightfielder and Austin, derailed by injuries, was stuck in Triple-A.
No need to feel too badly for Austin, though. Beginning Thursday evening, he was stuck no longer. Austin singled twice in his first two at-bats against Steven Matz and went 2-for-4 after getting called up to replace Garrett Cooper, who went on the 10-day disabled list after tweaking a hamstring.
It was a happy note in a tumultuous season for Austin, who suffered a broken foot on a foul ball during spring training and, after finally being called up in June, injured a hamstring after only four games.
“When you have something like that, a fluke type of injury, it makes for a long year. It makes for a difficult one,” he said. “I wasn’t quite expecting to come up this soon but, you know, I’m happy to be here. Feels good. Body feels great. I feel healthy — first time really all year, I guess you could say.”
Judge whiffs again
Bill Stoneman had better watch his back. The former Expos pitcher currently has the longest single-season strikeout streak at 35 games, but Judge is looming.
Judge broke a tie with Adam Dunn for the longest strikeout streak by a position player on Wednesday night, fanning for the 33rd straight game.
“It really isn’t” a worry, Joe Girardi said before Thursday night’s game. “I look at the quality of the at-bats and his at-bats have been good. When you look at the quality of the at-bats that he’s had in the last three or four days, they’ve been really good. That’s my focus. There’s going to be someone that comes along that’s going to have a longer streak than this one.”
He’s right. It’s Judge. On Thursday night, he struck out for the 34th straight game. After fanning three times, he has 58 strikeouts in his last 119 at-bats.
Despite Cooper’s injury, the Yankees will not rush back Greg Bird (ankle), who began his rehab stint Wednesday. “We have to get [Bird] to where he’s played some games, got some at- bats under his belt, feels comfortable,” Girardi said.
Matt Holliday (left lumbar strain) will begin his rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on Friday. Starlin Castro (hamstring) also will begin his rehab on Friday, with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
After going 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs in the Yankees’ 7-5 victory over the Mets on Thursday night, Gary Sanchez has four home runs and 11 RBIs in his last six games and is 13-for-32 in his last nine games.