The numbers were ridiculous Saturday night in the Bronx.
Six solo home runs by the Yankees, matching the franchise record, in an 8-0 pummeling of the Cubs. Two more from Aaron Judge for his fifth multi-homer game, which leads the majors — as does his total of 24.
And of course, Giancarlo Stanton smashing a 119.8-mph line drive that caromed off the facing of the second deck in leftfield with such incredible force that it landed back on the grass, halfway to the infield dirt.
“He’s weird” was all a smiling Aaron Boone could say about that, describing Stanton later as a “unicorn.”
The Yankees didn’t so much beat the Cubs on Saturday night as use them for entertainment purposes, especially shell-shocked rookie starter Matt Swarmer, who basically was told during one mound visit that he would be out there for at least five innings regardless of the damage.
Swarmer was like a kite in a hurricane, and Boone knew what he was doing by using Judge — the planet’s most intimidating hitter right now — in the leadoff spot again. As if starting in the Bronx wasn’t rough enough for a rookie, Judge drilled his second pitch over the leftfield wall, leaving a dent in Swarmer’s psyche that the Yankees exploited all night long.
Stanton’s 436-foot laser in the fourth inning was immediately followed by Gleyber Torres' shot into the Yankees' bullpen. Those homers on consecutive pitches triggered a power surge of five home runs in the span of nine Yankees at-bats and a 6-0 lead. All that was missing was the popcorn.
“Guys are locked in,” said Jordan Montgomery, the beneficiary of the fireworks display. “It’s definitely fun to see when we’re barreling the ball up like that.”
What Stanton does, however, is next level, and we’re not just talking stadium decks. His 119.8-mph rocket was the hardest-hit ball of the season, according to Statcast, dethroning previous title-holder Shohei Ohtani (119.1). Some other items of interest: There have been 17 hits with an exit velocity of at least 119.8 mph since 2015; Stanton has 14 of them and Judge has the other three. Overall, Stanton has had 31 balls leave his bat with an exit velocity of at least 119 mph. All other major-league players have 11 combined.
Even after hearing MVP chants with every trip to the plate and crushing two homers himself, Judge couldn’t help but marvel at what Stanton did to that Swarmer pitch in the fourth inning.
“It’s quite a sight,” Judge said. “You try to soak it all in in the moment, because when he hits one like that, you don’t see that every day. You don’t see that every couple of years, players able to do something special like that. I’m lucky enough to see that stuff on a nightly basis with him.”
The Yankees are fortunate to employ two such wrecking balls in their lineup on a regular basis. They’re 20-1 in games in which Judge and Stanton have homered during the regular season, including seven times this year.
And what more can be said about Judge? He’s only the third Yankee to have as many as 24 homers through the team’s first 59 games, joining Mickey Mantle (1956) and Babe Ruth (1921, ’28, ’30). He’s also driven in at least three runs in 11 games, one of only four players in franchise history to do so at this stage of the season, along with Lou Gehrig (1934), Ruth (1926) and Bob Meusel (1925). This performance isn’t just MVP-worthy — it’s becoming legendary.
Judge has hit 23 homers and driven in 46 runs in his last 44 games.
“Unreal,” Stanton said. “Fun to watch, and we all have the best seat in the house. We all kind of laugh as well after he puts up numbers like this.”
Frankly, the Yankees are making a joke of the opposition in every way possible. Their rotation pitches deeper than anyone else, their bullpen shuts people down as well as any relief corps in the majors, and they can rack up a W by blowout or nail-biter. Saturday’s six-homer barrage gives them an MLB-leading 94 for the season, including 29 in their last 12 games.
“We’re very complete with our wins,” Stanton said. “Some of our teams in the past, if we didn’t hit homers, sometimes we didn’t come out with wins. But we’re finding all types of ways to beat teams. If you give us an extra out, we’re capitalizing on it. We’re just trying to sweep everybody. You’re not going to get everybody, but that’s the mindset.”
The Cubs got the merciless-pounding version of the Yankees, and the game was rendered non-competitive by the fifth inning. Sure the comebacks are enjoyable and the tight contests are dramatic, but after the exhausting 48 hours that preceded it, the Yankees appreciated a laid-back laugher.
“We just got a lot of guys that aren’t satisfied,” Judge said. “That’s what really sums it up.”
Along with a tape-measure Saturday night.