Aaron Judge returned to the Yankees for the first time since his right wrist was broken seven weeks ago, taking over in right field for the final two innings of New York’s 11-0 romp over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
Judge had not played since July 26, when he was hit by a pitch from Kansas City’s Jakob Junis. The Yankees say for now Judge will be limited to defence and pinch running, but they hope he will become a regular at some point in the regular season’s final two weeks.
He was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 40,138 when he ran onto the field for the start of the eighth and another a minute later when he was introduced by public address announcer Paul Olden. Judge ran to the base of the right-field wall after his warmup tosses — just in front of the Judge’s Chambers. He handed the ball to a woman in the first row who passed it to a widely smiling girl next to her. Before the ninth, Judge tossed his warmup ball into the upper deck.
Toronto did not hit any balls to Judge.
Masahiro Tanaka (12-5), bidding to start a likely wild-card game against Oakland on Oct. 3, extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings and won his third straight start. Dominating with a sharp splitter, Tanaka struck out eight in six innings and allowed four hits. Luis Cessa got his second save in New York’s largest shutout win margin since a 15-0 victory over the Mets on June 14, 2009.
New York improved to 13-4 against Toronto this season. Starting their final homestand, the Yankees remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics for home field in the wild-card game.
Judge, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, is hitting .285 with 26 home runs and 61 RBIs. New York originally projected he would sidelined by the injury for three weeks, but pain lingered and he missed 45 games,
“It’s about hopefully getting him enough at-bats to where he can kind of knock off some of that rust, and hopefully that timing comes back sooner rather than later and he gets in a comfortable place as we head into the final week and into October,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game.
Luke Voit hit a two-run double that capped a five-run first inning against Marco Estrada (7-12), who tied a career worst by allowing eight runs and lasted just 2 2/3 innings.
Andrew McCutchen hit his third home run since the Yankees acquired him from San Francisco on Aug. 31 for outfield depth while Judge remains out. McCutchen doubled leading off the first and scored New York’s first run and also singled and walked twice. To make room for Judge, he shifted to left for the first time since 2009 at Triple-A.
Didi Gregorius also homered for the Yankees.
Toronto lost its fourth straight game and at 65-82 ensured consecutive losing seasons for first time since 2012-13.
Estrada also allowed eight runs for Milwaukee against St. Louis on May 5, 2013, and at Boston last Sept. 27. Missing high in the strike zone, he fell behind when Aaron Hicks hit a run-scoring single, Didi Gregorius had an RBI groundout and Gleyber Torres singled in a run.
Brett Gardner’s RBI single chased Estrada. Giancarlo Stanton, coming off a 4-for-34 (.118) trip, hit a two-run single off Taylor Guerrieri for an 8-0 lead.