The Yankees' Aaron Judge celebrates as he crosses the plate...

The Yankees' Aaron Judge celebrates as he crosses the plate after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a game against the Royals on Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. Credit: AP/Charlie Riedel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After watching his team scratch out a three-run shutout victory over the Royals on Saturday night — a game in which a powerful and recently hot Yankees lineup hit zero homers — Aaron Boone found it encouraging.

“If you want to be a complete team, and a really good one, you’ve got to win games at times in different ways,” he said. “And we’ve done that.''

The Yankees did it again Sunday.

Luis Severino was not especially sharp, but the Yankees — behind two homers and three RBIs from Aaron Judge and more terrific bullpen work —   earned their ninth straight victory, beating the Royals, 6-4, in front of 19,704 at Kauffman Stadium.

The Yankees, who clawed their way back from a 4-1 deficit after four  innings, have swept three straight series against Cleveland, Baltimore and Kansas City. Next up? The AL East preseason favorite Blue Jays for a three-game series at Rogers Centre that starts Monday night.

“You want to kind of be clicking on all cylinders, especially going against a division rival and especially how hot the Blue Jays have been,” said Judge, who has seven homers and 14 RBIs in his last eight games. “I’ve just really been impressed with guys up and down the lineup. Just good quality at-bats.”  

The Blue Jays (15-8) have played well to this point, but no one is hotter than the Yankees, now an MLB-best 16-6 after winning 11 of their last 12 games..

“It’s big time because in [some] years past, we’ve kind of scuffled out of the gates in April, and then all year all we’re doing is trying to climb back, fight back,'' Judge said. "Getting an early lead like this and trying to maintain that and grow it throughout the year is going to be big for us.”

The Yankees’ lone run through four innings came courtesy of Judge, who made it three straight games with a homer when he hit a 453-foot missile  off the base of the towering scoreboard in centerfield, a spot in this big ballpark that rarely sees baseballs.

“He’s a monster,” Severino said of Judge, who made it 6-4 in the ninth with his eighth homer, a two-out drive to right-centerfield.

Severino, who came in 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA, allowed three runs in the third  and one in the fourth. He wound up giving up  the four runs (three earned), seven hits and a walk in five innings, but despite not having anything close to his best stuff, he kept his team in the game.

 “We have a great team,” he said. “We have a team that can score, we have people that can get on base. Not only me, but any starter that can keep it to three or four runs, I think we can come back from that.”

Isiah Kiner-Falefa continued his rebound from  a 1-for-17 start, going 1-for-3 to lift his average to .303.  He doubled home a run and scored on DJ LeMahieu's single in the fifth to make it 4-3, but his 12-pitch walk in the Yankees' two-run seventh — he fouled off six straight two-strike pitches — was among the biggest clubhouse topics afterward.

“He had a hand in everything today,” Boone said, adding of the seventh-inning walk: “That’s the at-bat that sparked it all.”

Kiner-Falefa scored the tying run in the inning on Judge's checked-swing trickler up the first-base line. The Yankees took a  5-4 lead a batter later when Anthony Rizzo beat Nicky Lopez's throw home on Josh Donaldson's grounder to shortstop.

Michael King, who came in with two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh and seven-time All-Star Salvador Perez at the plate, induced an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. King, who lowered his ERA to 0.61 with a perfect eighth in which he struck out two, gave way to Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. With two outs, Lopez singled and Whit Merrifield walked, but Chapman got Andrew Benintendi to ground out to second to make it 6-for-6 in save chances. Chapman has not allowed a run in 11 appearances (9 1/3 innings).

“What we’re going through now, I’ve never experienced,” said Kiner-Falefa, who was on mostly noncompetitive teams while with the Rangers. “If we can keep building, the sky’s the limit.” 


Aaron Judge has been backed by a solid supporting cast during the Yankees' nine-game winning streak, but he's had a starring role.

At-bats 33

Hits 12

Avg. .364

Runs 11

RBIs 14

HRs 7

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