LOS ANGELES — The Players’ Weekend uniform was much different than the classic Yankees road uniform, but there was one familiar sight at Dodger Stadium Friday night.
Aaron Judge’s pull power has returned as he lined a third inning home run into the left field pavilion off Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as the Yankees home run parade began in their dominating 10-2 win over the Dodgers.
The Dodgers had lost only 16 games at home this season entering the night.
But they had not faced the Bronx Bombers here this season before Friday night, even if they were not dressed like the Bronx Bombers.
The Dodgers had not seen a top of the lineup that features the Yankees top five hitters, DJ LeMahieu, Judge, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius — before you get to No. 6 hitter Gio Urshela, who came into the night batting .336.
The second, third, fourth and fifth hitters in the Yankees lineup crushed the five home runs. This is one powerful lineup, when the Yankees are not facing the A’s in Oakland.
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“Oakland left a sour taste in our mouth and we just wanted to go back to our game plan,’’ Judge said. “Be aggressive in the zone and getting that big hit when we needed it. We needed a rebound game, and this is what we got. We were looking forward to this, the two best teams in the game.
“I’m feeling good now, and I’m getting some good pitches to hit,’’ Judge added. “If they get it over the plate I try to do some damage but sometimes you don’t get too many pitches over the plate and you start to chase and go after some stuff, not something to drive. I’m trying to stay in my zone and you get rewarded for that.’’
Aaron Boone has noticed the difference in Judge’s swing.
“He’s kind of completing his move in his load and then getting off his good swing and making good swing decisions because he is getting started properly and getting on time,’’ Boone said. “And that’s what he is. When he’s on time it is hard to keep greatness down. Big homer to get the scoring started and more really good at-bats. I’m excited that he is really starting to move like the guy we know he is.’’
By the time the night was over the Yankees had bashed five home runs, including Gregorius’ fifth-inning grand slam and ninth-inning solo shot. Two batters after Judge’s home run, Sanchez blasted the 100th home run of his career, no catcher has gotten to 100 home runs faster than Sanchez.
Then in the sixth Torres who was finally moved up to the third spot in the batting order by Boone (what took so long) lashed a solo home run, his team-leading 32nd.
Most of all though, Judge’s pull power looked most familiar and this is the version of the slugger the Yankees are going to need if they want to make it to the World Series and possibly be back playing these Dodgers here in October when the baseball really flies during that month.
Judge being Judge gives the Yankees lineup a much more fearsome look. The home run was the 97th of his career. He came into the night reaching base safely nine of his last 22 plate appearances after struggling reaching base just six times his previous 34 plate appearances.
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The 467-foot pull home run Judge hit Tuesday in Oakland was his first home run to left all season. Judge owns 14 home runs.
Alex Rodriguez was in the building, prepping for Sunday night’s game on ESPN and said on YES that Judge is back “delivering the blow, his top hand on top … subtle stride’’ and as A-Rod noted all that creates an “easy swing, massive power.’’
Judge’s parents were at the game as well as some family friends and the big outfielder spoke to the group in the visiting dugout before the game.
They also got to see Judge knock in a run in the eighth with a blistering single to left. The speed of that hit matched his uniform number – 99.
Judge missed 54 games with an oblique injury, and you can be sure that injury affected his power swing a great deal and that when he did come back he certainly had to compensate for that injury.
These recent pull swings show that Judge is getting back to The Judge who wields incredible power.
That is bad news for opponents because the Yankees now have 57 home runs for the month, the most home runs they have ever hit in any month.
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After four straight losses the Yankees welcomed the spotlight of this series. The Yankees got a strong outing from James Paxton, Boone finally put together his “A’’ lineup and Judge appears to have his “A’’ swing back.
That is a winning formula.
Everything seemed easier, more together, and more massive pull power for Judge