Payday: Judge wins for Yankees on eve of pay showdown

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees have a hearing Friday to determine the three-time All-Star’s salary for the 2022 season.

Anyway, the verdict has already fallen in the Bronx:

The judge will be worth every penny.

The 6-foot-7 regular slugger doubled down a game-winning single on the eve of his umpire matchup, capping a four-run ninth inning that included Aaron Hicks’ three-run tie against Ryan Pressly in the Yankees 7-. 6 win against the Houston Astros on Thursday night.

Batting with two against Ryne Stanek, Judge smoked a 3-0 splitter in the left field corner to score Jose Trevino from second base. It was the Yankees’ ninth win in 70 games this season – their best since 1943 – and one that seemed highly unlikely when they went into the final inning with just two hits.

“There’s a sign on the way to the dugout that says, ‘Do your job,'” Judge said. “That’s what I tried to do in this situation.”

A job with an unknown salary, for now. The 30-year-old will have an unusual in-season arbitration hearing on Friday – decisions are usually made in the offseason but have been pushed back past Opening Day this year due to the sport’s labor lockdown.

The judge is asking for $21 million. New York offered $17 million. The referee will be in charge of choosing one salary or the other – nothing in between.

The hearing comes after the parties failed to agree on a long-term contract by the judge’s opening day deadline this spring, meaning the No. 99 could leave the Yankees to seek a free agent contract elsewhere after the season.

Asked about Friday’s meeting, the judge smiled and said only “we’ll talk later”.

“We always hope for the best for our guys in officiating and stuff like that,” Hicks said. “We want him here as a Yankee.”

New York won Game 1 of a much-anticipated four-game series between the American League’s top two teams, winning for the 19th time in 22 games to improve to 52-18 – the third-best start in 70 games in the major since 1930.

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

The Yankees entered Thursday tied for the lead in the major leagues with 20 comeback wins. No. 21 could top them all.

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

The Hicks, who hit the switch, then dug in from the left side and smashed a no-doubt to right field, just the third hit for the Yankees all night and the first since the Stanton Homer.

Hicks’ third home run of the season sent the crowd of 44,071 into a frenzy.

“It was a playoff atmosphere there,” Judge said.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with a field single but was sent off trying to steal the second – a close call confirmed via replay.

Trevino doubled a one-out single, prompting manager Dusty Baker to retire Pressly (1-2), a two-time All-Star who entered with a 5.71 ERA in 18 career appearances against the Yankees, including including the playoffs.

Stanek walked DJ LeMahieu, then fell behind the judge 3-0 as fans sang the slugger’s serenade with “MVP!” songs.

“I knew I was going to get the job done,” Judge said after his third career win and second this season.

“That’s where this game is at its best, times like this,” he added. “The crowd is on, the game is on. These are the moments in your backyard you crave.

Miguel Castro (4-0) worked a no-hitter inning for the win.

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

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

“Things started falling apart and we couldn’t put it back together,” Baker said.

Valdez struck out seven over six innings, allowing just three runs on two hits, both in the first inning. He looked set to go further in the game until Anthony Rizzo hit a 16-pitch walk in the sixth. Valdez was retired after 101 pitches.

Héctor Neris threw a perfect seventh, and Tucker helped Rafael Montero past the eighth by leaping over the wall to catch a drive Rizzo thought was a surefire home run.

Taillon allowed a season-high six points, snapping a stellar first half after years of health issues. Houston had 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings against the right-hander.

Alvarez, who homered twice against the Mets on Wednesday night, hit a 113-mph low line into Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch in the third. Alvarez’s 22 home runs trail only Judge’s 27 for the major league lead.


Astros: SS Jeremy Peña (thumb discomfort) practiced on the field and Houston plans to evaluate him afterwards. … OF Jake Meyers (left shoulder surgery) joined the team after completing a minor league rehab assignment, but was not activated.

Yankees: Traded RHP David McKay for cash to Tampa Bay, optioned RHP Clarke Schmidt to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and added RHP Albert Abreu to the active roster.


Astros ace Justin Verlander (8-3, 2.30 ERA) throws at Yankee Stadium for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 AL Championship Series, a 4-1 loss at Houston. He is 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 career starts at the ballpark. He will face New York RHP Luis Severino (4-1, 3.27) on Friday night.


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