Aaron Judge‘s home run tour continued at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, where the Yankees began a weekend series with the Reds by grinding out a 6-2 win.
Four things to know from Friday’s game
1. Judge, who entered with six home runs and 14 RBI in his past 10 games (since he returned from the IL), picked up where he left off Thursday at the Toronto Blue Jays by launching a first-inning solo shot. With one out and a 2-2 count, he launched Ben Lively‘s four-seam fastball — high and over the plate at 93 mph — into the right-center concourse to put the Yankees in command of a 1-0 lead. Judge’s 13th homer and 29th RBI proved vital, too, as Lively (1-2, 2.45 ERA) limited the damage and responded with four scoreless frames — until the sixth inning.
2. After Judge’s two-out walk in the sixth, picking up back-to-back strikeouts by Aaron Hicks and Jake Bauers, Anthony Rizzo followed Judge’s lead. Rizzo (10) became the second Yankee to reach double-digit homers this season when he sent Ian Gibaut‘s 2-2 breaking ball — hanging inside at 83 mph — down the right-field line and off the foul pole for a two-run homer, padding New York’s 3-0 lead. In a lineup without Giancarlo Stanton (left hamstring strain) for the past month, Rizzo (25 RBI) remains reliable.
3. Despite working into sixth-inning trouble, Clarke Schmidt ultimately emerged with arguably his best start of the season. He fired five scoreless frames — while the Yankees’ bats stayed quiet, clinging to a 1-0 lead — before exiting in the sixth, where Schmidt started the inning by allowing consecutive hits on Jonathan India‘s leadoff single and Matt McLain‘s double.
Jimmy Cordero — equally impressive — initially entered and immediately surrendered a Jake Fraley double that charged Schmidt (2-4, 6.00 ERA) with the two runs while narrowing the Yankees’ lead to 3-2, but he limited the damage overall in a tough spot. After his Spencer Steer walk and Fraley’s stolen third base, Cordero (2.25 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) responded, first by keeping Fraley on third during Tyler Stephenson‘s comebacker for out No. 1.
Cordero subsequently closed the door on back-to-back looking strikeouts against Nick Senzel and Henry Ramos. Albert Abreu (seventh) and Wandy Peralta (eighth) continued the trend into the ninth inning, respectively firing hitless frames.
Circling back to Schmidt — whose hand umpires seemingly reviewed extensively midway through the fifth inning for sticky stuff but ultimately kept in the game, leading to Reds manager David Bell‘s argumentative ejection — the 27-year-old emerged with five hits allowed while striking out six and walking two. Cordero, Abreu and Peralta combined for five strikeouts to two walks in three innings.
4. The Yankees’ offense came alive in the ninth inning against Silvino Bracho, whom Kyle Higashioka got to on a two-out double that scored Gleyber Torres and Oswaldo Cabrera, and widened New York’s 5-2 advantage. DJ LeMahieu walked and Harrison Bader‘s single up the middle scored Higashioka to polish off the Yankees’ 6-2 win as Nick Ramirez closed a scoreless bottom frame for New York.
The Yankees (27-20) and Reds (19-25) continue their three-game set with Saturday’s 4:10 p.m. start.
As of Friday evening, Reds RHP Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.26 ERA) was the only probable pitcher listed.