Aaron Judge explains the case again, lifting the New York Yankees past the Houston Astros on the eve of the arbitration hearing


Aaron Judge explains the case again, lifting the New York Yankees past the Houston Astros on the eve of the arbitration hearing

NEW YORK — Aaron Judge lined a game-winning single on the eve of his umpire showdown and capped a four-run ninth inning that included Aaron Hicks’ tie, three-run homer against Ryan Pressly in the New York Yankees’ 7th. 6 win over the Houston Astros on Thursday night.

Judge hit Ryne Stanek with two ons and smoked a 3-0 splitter into the left field corner to hit Jose Trevino from second base. It was the Yankees’ ninth walkoff win in 70 games this season — the most since 1943 — and one that seemed extremely unlikely as they went into the last inning with just two hits.

New York won the opener of a highly anticipated four-game series between the top two teams in the American League, winning for the 19th time in 22 games to improve to 52-18 — the third-best 70-game start in the Majors since 1930.

New York also extended its home winning streak to 15 games, the team’s longest since 1961.

The Yankees went Thursday with 20 comeback wins for the major league lead. Number 21 is perhaps the most memorable.

Giancarlo Stanton, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning, led the ninth with a walk against Pressly, and Gleyber Torres drew another draw during a plate appearance that included a long delay because Torres had something in his eye.

The switch-hitting Hicks then dug in from the left and crushed a no doubt right, just the third hit for the Yankees all night and the first since Stanton’s homer. It was Hicks’ third homer of the season.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with hit No. 4, an infield single that was stopped by shortstop Mauricio Dubon but then got kicked out when he tried to steal second – a close decision confirmed by replay.

Trevino then lined a one-out single, prompting manager Dusty Baker to draw Pressly (1-2). Trevino also had a go-ahead, two runs, in the eighth inning of a 5-4 win at Tampa Bay Wednesday night.

Pressly, a two-time All-Star, faced the Yankees with a 5.71 ERA in 18 career appearances, including the postseason.

Stanek passed DJ LeMahieu and then fell 3-0 behind Judge as fans serenaded the slugger with “MVP!” chants.

“I knew I was going to get the job done,” Judge said after scoring his third career run and second of the season. “It’s moments like this that this game is at its best. The crowd is on their feet, the game is at stake. Those are the moments in your garden you dream of.”

Miguel Castro (4-0) clinched the win.

Next up: an unusual mid-season arbitration hearing on Friday – decisions are normally made during the off-season but have been postponed beyond opening day due to the sport’s work lockout. Judge is asking for a salary of $21 million, while New York offered $17 million in his final season before reaching free agency.

The judge said earlier in the week that he was looking forward to the hearing. It’s easy to see why.

He leads the majors with 27 homers and is fifth with 53 RBIs.

The Astros’ Alex Bregman and Stanton traded three-run homers in the first inning, and Houston’s Yordan Alvarez cracked another three-run drive in the third against Yankees starter Jameson Taillon.

Framber Valdez calmed down after a rocky first inning, Jose Altuve had three hits and right fielder Kyle Tucker stole a potential homer in the eighth inning for Houston, but the Astros fell to 43-26 on a rare night for the majors’ leading bullpen.

Stanton became the first player to home from Valdez’s elite curveball this season, and the left-hander shied away from his best shot afterward — with stellar results. With a heavy dose of sinkers, Valdez hit seven over six innings and allowed only the three runs with two hits, both in the first inning.

Valdez was looking good to get deep into the game until Anthony Rizzo grinded a 16-pitch walk in the sixth inning. Valdez was drawn after 101 pitches.

Hector Neris threw a perfect seventh place and Tucker helped Rafael Montero get past eighth place. After the judge caught third baseman Bregman’s error, Rizzo smoked what he believed to be a two-run homer to the right. While Rizzo jogged for the first time, Tucker jumped into the wall and grabbed the line drive for the third out.

Taillon allowed a season-high six runs, interrupting an excellent first half after years of being hampered by health issues. Houston had 10 hits in 5⅔ innings against the right-hander.

Fans have been fired up for the renewal of a thriving baseball rivalry — Houston has eliminated the Yankees from three postseasons since 2015, including during their scandal-ridden 2017 World Series run.

Bronx fans were thrilled when Taillon knocked Altuve to the ground in the build-up to the game, but they sank back in their seats when Bregman hit his homer to left field moments later. The break ended when Stanton countered with his drive at the end of the inning.

Alvarez, who homed twice against the Mets Wednesday night, slammed a low line drive at 113 mph into the short right porch of Yankee Stadium in the third. Alvarez’s 22 homers trail Judge’s 27 for the major league lead.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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