At some undetermined point of a baseball season, a good start to a year simply becomes a good year.
The Yankees are full steam ahead that way, if they haven’t reached it already.
They again laid the lumber to an overmatched pitching staff, scoring six runs in the first inning and hitting five home runs in a 16-3 massacre of the Orioles on Saturday night in front of 45,232 at the Stadium.
The Yankees have outscored the Red Sox and Orioles 41-6 in winning four straight games to move a season-high 13 games over .500 at 36-23.
The Yankees produced 18 hits, including 10 in the first four innings as they bolted to a 12-0 lead, and had 11 extra-base hits, including six doubles.
“There’s not a hole,” Aaron Judge said. “Even in the leadoff spot, you’ve got a guy that can hit home runs. All the way down to the ninth spot, we’ve got the guy [Chris Carter] who led the National League in homers [with 41 last year]. You just don’t see that. Shows you what kind of team we’ve got. It’s a fun lineup to be a part of.”
Judge, of course, has produced a season’s worth of fun for Yankees fans with home runs that have been both prodigious and heat-seeking.
On Saturday night, he hit his MLB-best 19th homer, a screaming liner to leftfield in the first inning that left his bat at 121.07 mph. It was the hardest-hit ball in the majors this season, surpassing Judge’s 119.8-mph rocket single off Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad on Thursday night.
“It was 121 mph, right?” Gary Sanchez said through his translator. “So I’m sure he can hit it up to 122, 123. It’s a lot of power. That home run I hit, I hit it pretty good and I think it was like 114. I don’t think I can go beyond that.”
Didi Gregorius hit his sixth homer, Starlin Castro his 11th, Matt Holliday his 13th and Sanchez his ninth. Sanchez drove in four runs and Judge, Holliday and Castro added three RBIs each. Judge, Holliday and Sanchez each had three hits.
The Yankees, who are averaging an MLB-best 5.75 runs per game, have scored at least eight runs and hit multiple homers in four straight games.
“It’s incredible,” Joe Girardi said. “There’s a lot of power in this lineup and, again, we can score quickly and we can score in bunches. It’s nice to have.”
Any pitcher would agree, including Luis Severino on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old righthander continued to make a strong case for an All-Star bid, allowing one run and two hits in seven innings. He had a shutout going until Chris Davis hit his 14th homer with two outs in the seventh.
Severino retired the first 12 Orioles before Mark Trumbo led off the fifth with a walk. The Orioles’ first hit came two batters later.
“It’s fun watching Sevy when he’s on like that,” Judge said.
Severino (5-2, 2.75) has been like that a lot recently, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last five starts. He struck out eight and walked two, giving him 84 strikeouts and 18 walks in 75 1⁄3 innings this season.
The Yankees buried the Orioles (31-29) in the first, an inning that began with Chris Tillman retiring the first two batters he faced. But the next seven batters produced six hits and a walk. Tillman (1-4, 8.01) allowed nine runs and seven hits in 1 1⁄3 innings.
“When you have a day like today,” Sanchez said, “you get to have a lot of fun.”