On a day when Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 60 bases, the Yankees brought some of their own fireworks to the ball park. Aaron Judge kicked things off with a mammoth three-run blast in the third and from there it was plain sailing. Luke Weaver pitched 5.1 scoreless in just his second Yankees start and Judge left the yard again in the fifth and seventh as the Yankees wrapped up a clinical victory in the series opener over the Diamondbacks, 7-1.
Weaver struck out NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner Corbin Carroll to open the contest and immediately it seemed he had a little extra zip and a little extra life to his pitches relative to his Yankees debut. He relied heavily on the cutter during that outing against the Pirates, which made it particularly interesting to see him lean on the four-seamer throughout today’s start.
Six of his eight whiffs on the contest came underneath the four-seamer, and at one point he had retired seven in a row. The 30 year old righty would end his night with 5.1 scoreless innings giving up four hits and no walks against three strikeouts. He exited to a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd — not bad for a pitcher who is on his third team this year after being designated for assignment twice over the last five weeks.
On offense, the Bombers found themselves neutralized by Arizona rookie Brandon Pfaadt, who outside of a Judge double in the first faced little opposition, even striking out the side in the second. That changed in a hurry in the third. Oswaldo Cabrera led off with a single and Oswald Peraza reached on an error, bringing Judge to the plate to blast a three-run bomb off the back wall of the Yankees bullpen.
The Yankees captain was far from finished. Peraza led off the fifth with a double and scored on a double from Estevan Florial, teeing up Judge’s second blast of the contest — a two-run wall scraper to right, making it 6-0 Yankees.
The pièce de résistance came in the seventh. Florial led off with his second double of the game but got thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple after the outfielder bobbled the ball. It mattered not, as Judge launched his third missile of the night, a solo shot into the second deck in right to put the Yankees up, 7-0.
Judge became the first player in Yankees history to tally multiple three-home run games in a season — crazy to conceive when you consider it took him until August 23rd of this year against the Nationals to join the three home run club, and now he does it twice in a month. In hitting numbers 33, 34 and 35, Judge ties Luis Robert Jr. for the third-most home runs in the AL — the other three at the top of the list (Robert, Shohei Ohtani, and Adolis García) all have at least 150 more plate appearances than Judge. With the double and three home runs, Judge joined Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Curtis Granderson for the third-most total bases (14) in a game in Yankees history. He also became the fastest player to 33 multi-HR games, besting Ralph Kiner’s mark of 830 games by one game. Finally, Judge joins Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mark McGwire, and David Ortiz as the only five players with at least six multi-HR games in a season.
That would conclude the scoring for the Yankees. Jhony Brito came on in relief of Weaver and pitched 3.2 fabulous innings, the only baserunner a Christian Walker solo shot in ninth. He has looked so sharp in this multi-inning relief role — it would be a huge boon for the Yankees if he can take over that role from Michael King as the latter is staking his claim on a rotation spot in 2024.
It was also encouraging to see the contributions from the youngsters, both with at the plate and with the glove. Florial smacked a pair of doubles. Peraza had a pair of hits to go along with a pair of web gems in the field. Anthony Volpe doubled and made a nice barehanded play and Austin Wells picked up a base knock.
All in all it was as close to a perfect win as you could ask for, the Yankees dominating the series opener, 7-1. They will look to guarantee a victory in the final series at the Stadium with Carlos Rodón set to face Zach Davies. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm so be sure to join us in the game thread!