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Aaron Judge homers twice, drives in five runs in first four innings to back Gerrit Cole in Yankees' blowout of Tigers

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees follows through

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees follows through on his third inning home run against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Friday, Apr. 30, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

This is what Brian Cashman envisioned when he put together this Yankees roster.

Gerrit Cole striking out 12 in six shutout innings.

Aaron Judge hitting two home runs, including a grand slam, in the first four innings to lead a five-homer barrage.

The Yankees dominating a lesser opponent.

 

It all came together for the Yankees on Friday night in a 10-0 wipeout of the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium.

It hadn’t come together too often in April: The Yankees finished the season’s first month at 12-14. But on Friday, they feasted on the Tigers, who have the worst record in baseball at 8-19.

Judge returned to the lineup after not starting for two games with mysterious lower-body soreness that the Yankees refuse to be specific about.

He played only five innings but made quite the impact with a tape-measure solo home run in the third and his second career grand slam in the fourth. The first went over Monument Park and the second landed in the second deck in rightfield.

Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Rougned Odor also homered for the Yankees, who led 9-0 after a five-run fourth inning and have hit 20 home runs in their last nine games.

The Yankees put up runs in each of the first five innings. Cole (4-1, 1.43 ERA) didn’t need all that support, but it probably felt nice. The righthander allowed four hits (all singles) and didn’t walk a batter.

It was the fourth time in six 2021 starts that Cole has struck out at least 10 without walking a batter. That ties the Yankees record for such games, which was set by Mike Mussina in 2001. It took Mussina 32 starts to accomplish the feat.

Cole has walked three and struck out 62 in 37 2⁄3 innings, a 14.8 K/9 rate. "He’s locked in, he’s dealing," Aaron Boone said. "It’s fun to watch him go out there and pitch."

Yankee pitchers struck out 18 batters, capped by Lucas Luetge striking out the side in the ninth.

In the first, Gio Urshela had a two-out RBI single against lefthander Tarik Skubal (0-4, 6.14) to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Frazier lined a high first-pitch fastball just over the leftfield fence for a bullet solo home run. It was Frazier’s second homer in three games.

Judge led off the third with a 436-foot home run that soared over Monument Park and hit off a window of the centerfield restaurant to make it 3-0.

Two batters later, Hicks broke an 0-for-18 slide with a solo shot to left. Hicks did a no-look bat flip on the no-doubt shot.

The biggest blast came in the fourth, when Judge connected against Buck Farmer for a grand slam to blow it open at 8-0. It was Judge’s seventh home run of the season and first grand slam since May 28, 2017.

"I think all around our team is just starting to get comfortable," Judge said. "Slow start to this season, but that’s why we play 162. We’re staying aggressive, we’re attacking pitches in the zone, and when we do that, this team’s something special."

Hicks added an RBI double in the fourth and Odor hit his fourth homer, a drive into the second deck in right off lefthander Tyler Alexander, in the fifth. Odor eschewed a bat flip and just dropped the bat at the end of his swing and jogged to first.

Giancarlo Stanton went 3-for-5, his third consecutive game with three hits, and has an eight-game hitting streak during which he is 16-for-36 (.444).

Cole looked as if he could have pitched all night without a care. He struck out five in a row starting with the final out of the second inning before allowing a pair of two-out singles in the fourth of then was a 4-0 game.

Next up was former Mets catcher Wilson Ramos, who has six home runs. The count went to 3-and-2 before Cole struck out Ramos looking at an 89-mph changeup.

"The score was relatively tight at that point and we had to make some pitches to Ramos, who has hit me quite well in the past [4-for-15 with two homers]," Cole said. "That was probably the most I needed to be locked in right there."

Boone took out Cole after 87 pitches.

Lefthander Wandy Peralta made his Yankees debut with a 1-2-3 eighth inning. The Yankees acquired Peralta from the Giants on Tuesday for Mike Tauchman.

"We were all kind of off on all cylinders and I think now it’s a good turn to start being on on all cylinders," Stanton said. "We’ve still got a ways to go to be clicking everywhere, but it’s good. We’re building off good games and good at-bats and taking our walks, talking our hits, and it’s looking good."

Said Boone, "When everyone’s contributing tonight — when you get great starting pitching and making the plays and obviously different guys contributing up and down the order offensively — it makes for a really fun night."

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