Aaron Judge 2nd fastest to 200 HRs, Yankees beat Royals 8-2

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge became the second fastest player in major league history to hit 200 career home runs and the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2 on Saturday.

“Excited to get it out of the way,” Judge said. “Me and (Aaron Hicks) were racing – he’s going to get to 100 and I was trying to get to 200, so we had a bit of a race going on.”

The 6-foot-6 slugger’s 200th homer came in his 671st career game, behind Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard, who accomplished the feat in 2009 in 658 games.

Judge, who gave his first home ball to his parents, managed to get his 200th from a “good family” without much bargaining. He believes this will also go to his parents.

DJ LeMahieu homered and had an RBI single, and Matt Carpenter homered for the 15th time in 40 games for New York, which won its third straight after dropping a pair of games to the New York Mets.

The AL-leading Yankees have won seven straight against the Royals and 10 of their last 11.

Whit Merrifield had a third double for his 1,000th career hit and Salvador Perez had a sacrifice fly for the Royals, who have lost five straight.

A day after becoming the first player with 40 home runs this season, Judge fouled off two breaking balls from starter Jonathan Heasley before sending a 2-2 fastball into the right-center field seats for a two-run double in the second inning . It was one of his two hits, and he also walked twice.

“He was smoking it,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “I told him the right fielder would come in if I hit the same ball.”

“I feel like the big numbers, they’re always hard to overcome,” Judge said. “To get it out of the way, plus a win, is pretty sweet.”

Judge has 42 homers this season and is on pace for 67. He is tied with Sammy Sosa and two behind Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire for the most before August 1st in MLB history. Bonds holds the season record with 73 homers in 2001.

A late-season free agent, Judge has nine homers and 21 RBIs with a .436 batting average in 10 games since the All-Star break. After hitting just one homer in his first 13 games, Judge has connected for 36 in his last 79 games and is on pace to surpass Roger Maris’ club record of 61 set in 1961.

“I can’t imagine a person more equipped to go through something like this,” Boone said of Judge. “I know, at his core, what he wants and that this team and us win and nothing is going to stand in the way of that.”

Yankees All-Star Nestor Cortes (9-3) allowed two runs in five innings. He struck out five and walked two and turned in a good fielding play in the second, catching Hunter Dozier at third after he slid on the ground while throwing out MJ Melendez’s pitch. Cortes has a 2.60 ERA in five July starts.

“He had some movement throughout the game that he could navigate, but overall, I thought he threw the ball well,” Boone said.

Heasley (1-6), reinstated from the injured list before the game after missing 17 games with right shoulder tendinitis, allowed six runs over 3 1/3 innings in his first start since July 9.

The Yankees took advantage of back-to-back Kansas City errors in the fourth to blow the game open. Rookie Maikel Garcia threw out Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s pop up and Merrifield whiffed on Nicky Lopez’s grounder to Jose Trevino to allow Kiner-Falefa to advance to third. LeMahieu singled to center to chase down Heasley, and Andrew Benintendi delivered a sacrifice fly against reliever Wyatt Mills. LeMahieu finished with three hits.

“You make mistakes against good teams, they’re going to make you pay,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. “They made us pay.”

Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless inning and Clark Schmidt worked the final three for his second career save.

Garcia singled in the fourth to drive in Kansas City’s second run for his first career RBI.

Before the game, New York held its annual Senior Day ceremony for the first time since 2019, although the traditional exhibition game did not take place.

COACH ROOM

Royals: RHP Zack Greinke, originally scheduled to play Saturday, was given an extra day of rest and will now play Sunday. … SS Bobby Witt Jr. returned to the lineup after missing five games with right hamstring soreness. … RHP Jackson Kowar was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to make room for Heasley. … Perez (left thumb) started behind the plate for the first time since June 21 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament.

Yankees: OF Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles tendinitis) has yet to resume baseball activities. … 1B Anthony Rizzo (rest) cleared.

NEXT

Greinke (3-6, 3.44 ERA) takes the mound for Kansas City in the series finale. A potential trade candidate, Greinke is winless in six career starts (seven innings) at Yankee Stadium, holding an 0-3 record with a 9.22 ERA. He will be opposite LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-3, 3.50 ERA).

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