NEW YORK (AP) — It took Aaron Judge exactly 600 major league games to hit his first walk-off home run.
When he finally connected Tuesday night, the soaring drive certainly measured up to the moment.
Judge hit a mammoth three-run shot in the ninth inning to give the New York Yankees a scintillating 6-5 comeback victory over the rival Toronto Blue Jays.
“What a game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “A heavyweight game. Those are fun ones to be a part of.”
Giancarlo Stanton tied it with a modest three-run shot in the sixth, and the Yankees rallied for their 14th victory in 16 games after three Toronto ejections left the angry Blue Jays seeing red.
New York overcame a shaky start from Luis Severino and improved to 21-8, the best record in the majors.
George Springer launched a leadoff homer for Toronto, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ripped a tiebreaking double in the eighth that helped the Blue Jays take a 5-3 lead on Alejandro Kirk’s sacrifice fly.
But in the ninth, Jose Trevino and DJ LeMahieu drew consecutive one-out walks from Jordan Romano (1-2) before Judge sent a hanging 1-2 slider 450 feet into the second deck in left field. The big slugger, who hit a game-ending homer for Double-A Trenton in April 2015, did a little dance as he approached the plate and was swarmed by excited teammates.
“It’s a weird feeling. You hear the crowd going crazy and you see the bench, you see guys jumping over the railing,” Judge said. “A special moment you get to share with them.”
It was the 10th home run of the season for Judge, who began the night tied for the major league lead. His 167 previous home runs were the fifth-most among active players without a walk-off shot.
Judge and Stanton have homered in the same game 20 times, including the postseason, and the Yankees have won 19.
It was the second blown save in 14 chances this season for Romano, who entered leading the majors in saves.
“He’s one of the best closers in baseball,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He just didn’t have it today.”
Wandy Peralta (1-0) pitched a hitless ninth for the win.
Santiago Espinal had an early two-run double — originally ruled a home run before a replay review — as Toronto quickly built a 3-0 lead against Severino, who started on eight days’ rest.
Yusei Kikuchi pitched five hitless innings before Stanton tied the score in the sixth with a three-run homer off reliever Yimi García that cleared Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch by just a few rows. The 335-foot drive would not have been a home run in any other big league ballpark, according to Statcast.
That’s when the fireworks really started.
García hit the next batter, Josh Donaldson, just above the left elbow pad with a 94 mph fastball on an 0-1 count.
Players on the New York bench didn’t like it, but Donaldson calmly went to first base and the umpires convened on the infield grass.
After a long discussion, crew chief Alfonso Marquez ejected Garcia, enraging the pitcher and several Blue Jays who came spilling out of the dugout. In the heated exchange, Marquez tossed pitching coach Pete Walker as well.
“Earlier in the game there were some words exchanged between Donaldson and Toronto’s catcher (Tyler Heineman), so that definitely played into it. There were pretty strong words,” Marquez told a pool reporter. “Then you have a game-tying home run and the second pitch, which we deemed intentional, which was the reason for the ejection. All that really played into it.”
Donaldson didn’t think Garcia’s pitch was intentional — although it looked bad, he said. He acknowledged he and Heineman had a “discussion” on the field.
“I don’t even know the guy. I didn’t even know that was his name. Never heard of him,” the veteran slugger said.
Then when Yankees reliever Jonathan Loáisiga brushed back Bo Bichette with a 97 mph fastball in the seventh, plate umpire Lance Barrett heard something from the Blue Jays bench and ejected a flabbergasted Montoyo.
“I got thrown out because I’m not supposed to argue warnings,” Montoyo explained.
Toronto has lost three straight and six of eight.
“I think when Josh got hit, I think that kind of locked all of us in, said OK, it’s go time. Especially me, same thing. It kind of got me going a little bit,” Judge said with a smile. “When something like that happens it’s like, OK, we’ve got to go out there and win this one.”
Springer’s fourth leadoff homer this season was the 47th of his career, tying Curtis Granderson for fifth place.
Rookie right-hander Luis Gil will be called up from the minors to start for the Yankees on Thursday night at the Chicago White Sox. The 23-year-old Gil is 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after going 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA in six big league starts for the Yankees last year, with 38 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. New York needs a spot starter after two rainouts last weekend forced a doubleheader Sunday against Texas and a makeup game Monday.
Blue Jays: LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (forearm inflammation) joined the team and is expected to come off the injured list to start Saturday at Tampa Bay. … C Danny Jansen (left oblique strain) was set to begin a rehab assignment at Class A Dunedin. … INF/OF Cavan Biggio, on the COVID-19 injured list, was scheduled to be the DH at Triple-A Buffalo.
Yankees: OF Joey Gallo was rested against the left-hander even though he’s 3 for 9 with two home runs and a walk off Kikuchi. Gallo drew a one-out walk as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Stanton will probably get Wednesday off, Boone said.
Blue Jays RHP José Berríos (2-1, 5.34 ERA) pitches Wednesday against RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 2.84) when the AL East foes wrap up a two-game series with a 12:35 p.m. matinee. Taillon starts on seven days’ rest after throwing six sharp innings last Tuesday in a 9-1 win at Toronto.
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