NEW YORK – The red-hot Aaron Judge was kept inside the park on Sunday, pausing his chase for Roger Maris’ club record of 61 home runs.
Salvador Perez stole the show instead.
The Royals catcher crushed a three-run home run off Clay Holmes in the ninth, lifting Kansas City to a 8-6 comeback win over the Yankees in The Bronx. It’s only the third blown save this year for the Yankees closer, who entered the game with the third-lowest ERA in the majors. The Yankees (69-34) appeared to be on their way to a series sweep when Anthony Rizzo came through with a go-ahead, three-run home run in the seventh.
Judge has captivated baseball fans with 42 home runs this year – including 12 in his last 15 games – but had to settle for two walks in a hitless series finale before 45,341 fans.
Jordan Montgomery was pulled after four-plus innings, allowing four runs to the light-hitting Royals. It’s the second straight clunker for Montgomery, who went a season-low 2.1 innings on Tuesday against the Mets.
What looked like a bounceback start unraveled in the fifth when Montgomery walked the first two batters. The bottom of the Kansas City lineup took advantage with Nick Pratto smacking a two-run single, and Maikel Garcia chopping an RBI double down the first base line.
The Yankees answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning with a bloop and a blast. Kyle Higashioka put the Yankees on the board with a cue shot single off veteran Zack Greinke and DJ LeMahieu crushed a two-run home run into the short porch in right. LeMahieu has reached base in 30 of his last 31 starts while hitting .339 (42-for-124) over that stretch.
“I think his consistency this year has been excellent,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I feel like he’s gone to another level. Just his ability to hit front of Judge has been really, really good. To see him kind of work at-bats ahead of Aaron has been fun to watch.”
Toms River native Ron Marinaccio had his scoreless inning streak snapped at 19, with Hunter Dozier taking the Yankee reliever deep to start the eighth.
In the works
General manager Brian Cashman only has two more shopping days before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline, although the Yanks are assured some help either way.
Left-hander Zack Britton is expected to face live batters for the first time next week, and his impending return from Tommy John surgery could soften the blow of losing Michael King for the year.
Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles tendonitis) will likely start baseball activities early this week. Boone came away optimistic after a brief meeting on Saturday with this year’s All-Star Game MVP.
“I think he’s definitely encouraged by the last few days,” Boone said. “The last few days he’s noticed improvement and I think have moved the needle how he would hope so. Hopefully that starts to pick up speed this week.”
Joey Gallo’s days in pinstripes appear to be numbered with the recent acquisition of left-handed outfielder Andrew Benintendi. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Sunday that Gallo – who was held out of the starting lineup for the third straight game – has drawn interest from the Rays, Padres and Brewers. Gallo is currently in a 6-for-67 drought that’s dropped his batting average to .159.
Sean Farrell is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.