OAKLAND, Calif. — Aaron Judge got to the brink of 50 homers on Friday night, but that’s not what he was interested in after the Yankees 3-2 win over the A’s.
“It’s just another number,” Judge said of his 49th home run, a three-run shot that sparked the Yankees’ victory. “I’m happy we got another win to keep this winning streak going.”
The blast, plus an excellent outing from Gerrit Cole and an escape of a close call in the ninth by Wandy Peralta, gave the Yankees their fifth straight win.
Peralta gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth, but picked up the save by escaping further damage.
The victory allowed the Yankees to extend their AL East lead to 8 ½ games over the Rays after Tampa Bay had its six-game winning streak snapped by the Red Sox.
In front of a crowd of 16,821, a veritable sellout at the Oakland Coliseum these days, Judge provided the offense with a three-run homer in the fifth inning off former Yankee JP Sears, who lasted six innings.
It got him to within one hitting the 50-homer milestone for the second time in his career. He also walked three times.
“I get to have the best seat every night for the Aaron Judge show, which is one-of-a-kind right now,” Cole said.
Cole, who hadn’t won any of his previous six starts, allowed one run in 7 ¹/₃ innings in his longest outing in more than two months. He retired 12 straight after a third-inning walk to Sean Murphy before he gave up a homer to Jonah Bride with two outs in the seventh.
The Yankees couldn’t break through against Sears — who was part of the trade that brought Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino to The Bronx from Oakland — despite putting multiple runners on base in the second, third and fourth innings.
That changed in the fifth, when Oswaldo Cabrera — who had three more hits — led off with a single and DJ LeMahieu followed with a base hit to center.
Judge then slammed a long home run to center field to put the Yankees up, 3-0.
Cole kept Oakland off the board until Bride’s first major league homer. It was just the second of three hits allowed by Cole, who also struck out 11.
The right-hander left with one out and one on in the eighth and Jonathan Loaisiga, who has pitched better over the past month, entered and got the final two outs of the inning.
Cabrera opened the third with a triple to the right. With the infield in, LeMahieu grounded to second and Cabrera stayed at third. After an intentional walk to Judge, Giancarlo Stanton smacked a hard grounder to third that turned into an inning-ending double play to keep the game scoreless.
The Yankees wasted another opportunity in the fourth after Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk and Andrew Benintendi singled.
Trevino, who left the game after getting hit in the right big toe by a pitch in the eighth, sent a screaming liner to deep center and Stevenson chased it down.
Donaldson moved to third on the play, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with a fly out to deep right, as the Yankees squandered four early walks.
But Judge’s big blow made up for it and Cole and the bullpen made the one swing stand up.
Cole had been winless in his previous six starts with a 4.62 ERA—and the Yankees lost five of those outings. He had pitched well in Seattle and against the Rays in back-to-back starts, but struggled in Baltimore and in home starts versus the Mariners, Royals and Blue Jays.
And he said the Yankees’ mindset hasn’t changed that much even though they have put their recent tough stretch behind them.
“You don’t want to carry three or four losses [in a row] in the next game and you try not to do that, but that’s not the reality,” Cole said. “But I also don’t think we get overly high about these five [consecutive] wins.”