The Yankees’ offense woes in the Subway Series came with traffic on the bases, as they went 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
On Thursday, they struggled to even put runners on base, never mind scoring position.
But all it took was one big swing from Aaron Judge to save the game.
Judge delivered with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, crushing a walk-off home run to left-center field to lift the Yankees to a 1-0 win over the Royals in The Bronx.
“It doesn’t cease to amaze the season he’s putting together,” manager Aaron Boone said. “To put it up in the air where he did, not many people can hit it like that and ride it out like he did. Huge. Huge to get us off on the homestand where it was a grind for us tonight. But we’ll take it.”
Judge’s 39th home run of the year, coming off Royals right-hander Scott Barlow, was just the second hit of the game for the Yankees (67-33), who had lost two straight and five of their last seven coming into the night.
Royals right-hander Brady Singer had dominated the Yankees, striking out 10 over seven shutout innings of one-hit ball. He permitted only three base runners and none of them advanced past second base.
But Judge came through with his sixth home run in his last seven games to wipe away a night of frustration.
“Today was tough, especially coming off the two losses at Citi Field,” Judge said. “Then coming in here and Singer shutting us down all game, it didn’t feel too good. But this team’s got a lot of heart.”
The 431-foot moonshot was Judge’s third career walk-off home run, all of which have come this year in the midst of his MVP-caliber season.
“We’ve come to expect it,” said Jameson Taillon, who tossed six shutout innings. “It seems like every big moment, he’s up there and comes through.”
The debut of Andrew Benintendi, acquired from the Royals (39-60) on Wednesday night, did not immediately spark the Yankees’ lineup. The left fielder went 0-for-4 from the leadoff spot, though he was far from alone in not being able to get to Springer.
“He was on,” Benintendi said. “It didn’t seem like he missed too many pitches over the middle of the plate. He was painting the corners and didn’t really give us much to hit.”
The Yankees recorded their first hit of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Gleyber Torres lined a two-out single through the right side. Otherwise, Singer was untouchable, with the only other base runners coming on a walk and hit batter.
Coming off his shortest start of the season—when he lasted just 2 ²/₃ innings against the Orioles and issued a season-high three walks—Taillon put together a bounce-back effort on Thursday. The right-hander labored early but scattered four hits and two walks while tying a season-high with eight strikeouts.
Ron Marinaccio relieved Taillon to start the seventh inning and tossed two perfect frames. It marked the rookie’s 15th straight scoreless appearance, a streak that spans 19 innings. Opponents are batting 1-for-57 against him during that stretch as he continues to earn more trust from Boone.
“I feel like his heartbeat doesn’t get above 60,” Judge said. “It’s crazy.”
But the biggest moment in a high-pressure situation came from Judge, who walked to the plate in the ninth inning thinking he didn’t have much to lose. He was sitting offspeed but then got a first-pitch fastball down the middle from Barlow and didn’t miss.
“I was 0-for-3 with two punchouts,” Judge said. “I was like, ‘What’s the worst that could happen, I strike out a third time?’ ”