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Yankees 7, Angels 4: The Aaron Judge Show, episode 51

The Yankees’ star hit his 51st long ball of the season in a big win.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This was one of those games where a bunch of little things could have bounced the other way and it would have ended worse. The Yankees got two big runs on a costly error, Jameson Taillon avoided serious injury thanks to dumb luck, those kind of bounces went their way for the first time in a few games. Add that to some big home runs, and you have a winning recipe, as the Yankees snapped their three-game losing streak with a 7-4 win over the Angels.

This was my favorite kind of game. Big hits early, and then your star breaks the game open with the biggest hit. Andrew Benintendi, moved up a slot in the order from last night, immediately made the brain trust look pretty smart:

Jameson Taillon was spotted a 1-0 lead before he even took the field, and he struck out Shohei Ohtani swinging to end the bottom half of the first. In the battle between the two AL MVP favorites, Aaron Judge also struck out, but we’ll get back to him in a moment.

Anthony Rizzo helped the Yankees keep up the pressure in the second:

I am of the belief that Rizzo’s terrible August was mostly driven by his determination to play through back problems, and that sapped him of his ability to drive the ball. If his back is closer to 100 percent, he helps with this weeks-long problem where if the top three hitters in the order don’t produce, the team slides into a loss. He doesn’t solve the offensive inconsistency all by himself, but one more solid hitter, in one more spot down the order, makes things that much harder for opposing pitchers.

So the Yankees had a couple good outcomes early, but fell into some trouble with their starter. Taillon served up a two-run shot to Max Stassi, he of the 67 wRC+ entering play, to tie the game back up at two. The very next batter drilled Taillon on the right forearm with a comebacker:

The Yankees got the out, but Taillon left immediately with a right forearm contusion. It seemed bad enough to take him out, but the fact that the news about a contusion, with no x-rays or other scans done, came out so quickly is hopefully good news. The last thing the Yankees need right now is another hurler on the shelf.

So the Yankees had some bad luck in the second, but they got some good luck in the fourth. With the bases loaded and two out, Josh Donaldson bonked a ball to third:

You need luck to be good, and the Yankees got a bit of it back in this one. Mike Ford, who of course went deep later in the game, should have been able to snare this one, but I’m glad he didn’t. The Yankees were up two, and it gave Aaron Judge a chance to pour it on in the fourth:

51 home runs before August ends. Aaron Judge is on pace for 64 by the end of the year. He went nine games without a long ball, and has now hit five home runs in his last eight contests. If the season ended today I think he would capture the AL MVP with ease, and he has 32 more games to see how close to that 64 dinger pace he can keep.

With Taillon only throwing two innings, it took a whole menagerie of Yankee relievers to pick up the slack, and they did so in style. Greg Weissert, Lucas Luetge, Lou Trivino, Ron Marinaccio, Jonathan Loáisiga and Wandy Peralta combined to throw seven innings, with just two earned runs — one of them Ford’s dinger off Luetge — and eight strikeouts against no walks. Loáisiga in particular looked like the Devil, striking out three Angels on 12 pitches in the eighth, before getting Mike Trout to roll over on a ball to short in the ninth.

With how good Clay Holmes looked last night, and Loáisiga starting to look like he did last season, the bullpen seems well on its way to remaining one of the team’s biggest strengths. The ‘pen will hopefully get a rest tomorrow, as we have a real pitching matchup due up, with Gerrit Cole taking on Pablo Sandoval in the rubber match. First pitch comes at 9:38pm Eastern.

Box Score