Joe Girardi characterized the start of last night’s game at the Stadium as “eerie.”
The ballpark’s ultra-modern sound system crashed about 15 minutes before first pitch, meaning no pregame advertisements, no lineup announcements, no national anthem.
“It was weird,” Girardi said.
The crack of the bat was never more pronounced, and when the Yankees batted in the bottom of the first inning, it resounded throughout the stadium.
The Yankees jettisoned Orioles starter Wade Miley after one-third of an inning, riding a six-run first and a two-homer, six-RBI night by Aaron Judge to a 13-5 victory in front of 37,128.
“After we got the six runs, I wanted to tell them, ‘Don’t play anything, keep it silent, it’s kind of working for us,’ ” Judge said, smiling. “It was a little funky to begin with, but once you step out on that field, it’s still baseball.”
And the Yankees have been playing it about as well as anyone of late — excluding the Indians, of course.
Last night, they hit a trio of three-run homers and a solo shot, had 14 hits and batted around in the first and sixth.
The Yankees (80-66) moved 14 games over .500 for the first time since June 13 and are one game shy of their high-water mark for the season (38-23 on June 12). They won for the ninth time in the last 12 games and remained three games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox.
“It’s been teams we’ve been chasing or chasing us, so these have been important games and these guys have played extremely well,” Girardi said. “And it’s come from different places a lot of the nights. They’re playing really well as a group right now.”
Just after Todd Frazier’s three-run homer made it 6-0 with one out in the first, the sound system kicked in as quickly as it had kicked out. Coincidentally, the Yankees stopped scoring, but only until Judge blasted a three-run homer into the bleachers in right-center off Mike Wright in the fourth for a 9-1 lead.
Judge, who also hit two homers Sunday against the Rangers, clubbed No. 43 in the sixth, a three-run laser into the second deck in leftfield that made it 12-2. It went 448 feet, had an exit velocity of 117.2 mph and gave him 11 homers and 24 RBIs in 16 games against the Orioles this season.
Judge has six homers, a .457 OBP and a 1.309 OPS in his last 10 games and 96 RBIs for the season. “I’ve felt like he’s been getting closer and closer to where he was in the first half,’’ Girardi said, “and maybe he’s there.”
Gary Sanchez followed Judge’s sixth-inning blast with his 31st homer, the most ever hit by a Yankees catcher. His drive landed on the net above Monument Park. “To be able to set that record, it’s an honor to me,” Sanchez said through his translator. “We’ve had many, many very good catchers here. I feel very proud about that.”
Masahiro Tanaka (12-11), coming off a start in Texas in which he allowed seven runs in four innings, mostly cruised. He allowed two runs, eight hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings, improving to 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA in his last 14 starts.
The two runs came on homers — Jonathan Schoop’s 32nd, which brought the Orioles within 6-1 in the fourth, and Trey Mancini’s 24th, which made it 9-2 in the sixth. The Orioles hit a third homer in the ninth, a solo shot by Chance Sisco off Giovanny Gallegos.
“[The run support] does make things easier,” Tanaka said through his translator. “But regardless of how many runs the offense gets for you, you just try to go out there and focus pitch by pitch and do what you need to do.”