NEW YORK – Shohei Ohtani was making Yankees manager Aaron Boone nervous — until the Angels' two-way star batted in the seventh inning Tuesday night.
“It was nice to see him up there with nobody on base and down six,” Boone said. “I prefer it that way.”
After months of mysteriously punchless play, New York's star-studded lineup surged at the right time to thwart a big night from baseball's top slugger.
Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez powered a long-awaited onslaught, helping the Yankees overcome two more home runs by big league leader Ohtani to beat Los Angeles 11-5. Judge and Sánchez each homered as New York set a season high for runs hours after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declared his fourth-place club “as bad as we can be" amid a four-game slide.
The Yankees hadn't scored at least 10 runs since April 30, and this was just their second time in double digits. They remain 7 1/2 games back of the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox, but there's at least some optimism following the kind of Bronx beating that has been so hard to come by this year.
“That’s those guys right there,” Boone said. “That’s the heaviness I’m talking about.”
Ohtani cleared the right field fence with a pair of scorching, low drives that pushed his major league-most total to 28 — two ahead of Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Ohtani also homered Monday in the Angels' 5-3 win.
“There’s a little bit of fear when he walks up there,” Boone said.
Ohtani, on pace for 57 homers, also hit a ball to the warning track that was caught in the seventh. He grounded out to first for the last out of the game, and manager Joe Maddon complimented him for sprinting all out on the routine play despite the six-run deficit.
“He's a joy for this,” Maddon said. “He's what baseball needs both as a player and as an example.”
The two-way Japanese sensation has connected 11 times in 13 games, and he’s expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday night when he takes his first turn on the Yankee Stadium mound.
If Ohtani does pitch and bat second in the lineup as planned, he’ll become the second player — and first since Babe Ruth in 1933 — to toe the rubber and hit in the top half of the batting order for a game in the Bronx.
“He's a generational talent, that's for sure,” Judge said. “We're excited to see him on the mound.”
He'll face a Yankees lineup that's suddenly come to life after entering Tuesday ranked 14th out of 15 American League teams with 310 runs.
Sánchez hit a solo shot in the first inning for his 14th of the season, and Judge's two-run drive in the second was his team-leading 18th. Both homers came off Andrew Heaney (4-6), who was charged with seven runs in three-plus innings.
The Yankees sent nine to the plate during a five-run fourth inning that included Miguel Andújar’s homer, RBI doubles from Sánchez and Luke Voit, and a two-run single for Gleyber Torres.
“We've got some mentally strong, mentally tough guys in this room,” Judge said. “And that's what it's going to take for us to rebound and be where we want to be.”
Torres' RBI was his first since June 6. The two-time All-Star was 9 for 66 (.136) with one extra-base hit since that previous RBI. He also singled, stole a base and scored on Andújar's double in the sixth, a payoff after extensive work with New York's hitting coaches to get the promising 24-year-old right.
“I think it's big,” Boone said. “I think they've identified some things and are working behind the scenes to unlock him.”
Andújar had three hits and drove in two, his first RBIs since June 15.
Heaney allowed five runs in his previous outing, and his ERA has risen nearly a full run from 4.45 to 5.40 over his last two starts.
“His stuff looks good," Maddon said. "He's healthy, I think he's really good and we have to get him back, because he's a big part of our rotation.”
Jameson Taillon (3-4) was credited with a win despite allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings, pushing his ERA to 5.43.
José Iglesias also homered for the Angels, a two-run drive in the second inning that put Los Angeles ahead 2-1. Iglesias had three hits.
New York had a chance to do further damage when Angels reliever Junior Guerra walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but the right-hander induced an inning-ending double play from Sánchez without allowing a run.
Angels: RHP James Hoyt was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake and LHP Dillon Peters was optioned to the Bees.
Yankees: RHP Darren O'Day, out since April 29 with a strained left rotator cuff, was activated and available for high-leverage innings. RHP Brooks Kriske was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... LHP Justin Wilson (strained right hamstring) is expected to be activated Wednesday. ... LHP Zack Britton had an MRI on his left hamstring that showed a Grade 1 strain. He could throw a bullpen as soon as Thursday. Britton has been hopeful of returning from the 10-day IL when he's eligible next week. ... RHP Albert Abreu was hit in the right side by a line drive in the eighth, but completed the play for the final out of the inning. He appeared OK as he left the mound. The Yankees announced after the game Abreu was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Ohtani (3-1, 2.58 ERA) will oppose RHP Domingo Germán (4-5, 4.32 ERA).
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