BALTIMORE — “Mount Walltimore” was absolutely no match for Aaron Judge.
The Major League leader in home runs crushed two mammoth homers to left field, including a 465-foot blast in the fifth inning for his 36th of the season, in leading the New York Yankees to a 7-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday evening. Josh Donaldson hit a pair of doubles on a 2-for-3 evening while closer Clay Holmes was pressed into, and delivered on, a five-out save after coming in with one out in the eighth inning.
Though Judge’s first home run of the night, measured at a measly 436 feet, was not at long as his showstopper in the fifth, it created more damage on the scoreboard, as it came with two runners on in the third inning to give New York a 3-0 lead. The rally started innocently enough, with a two-out walk to ninth-place hitter Joey Gallo by Orioles starting pitcher Tyler Wells, who did not allow a hit the first time through the Yankees order. DJ LeMahieu followed with a single, which then brought Judge up with two outs.
Baltimore renovated left field before the season started, moving the wall back 30 feet and increasing the wall’s height to 12 feet in an attempt to make the notoriously home-run friendly ballpark fairer to the Orioles current pitchers and potential free agent pitchers who may consider Camden Yards as a destination. All Judge did in his second at-bat of the evening was give Wells’ 2-1 fastball a new destination: into the Yankees’ bullpen, well over the high wall in left.
In terms of majesty, Judge topped that third-inning blast in his next at-bat, a change-up from Wells that the AL MVP frontrunner sent to the roof of the Yankees’ bullpen and almost into the spectator area on the concourse beyond the bullpen.
Baltimore rallied on two separate occasions to come within a run and set up a interesting finish. After New York’s three-run third, the Orioles started the bottom of the inning with three straight hits, the latter two being an RBI double from Jorge Mateo and an RBI single from Cedric Mullins to cut New York’s lead to 3-2.
Joey Gallo had hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh to give New York a 7-3 advantage, but the bottom of the inning saw the Orioles rally against former New York Closer Aroldis Chapman, who allowed a single and a walk and threw two wild pitches to start the inning. With one out, Anthony Santander crushed a three-run shot off Chapman over the wall in left to once again bring Baltimore’s deficit to one.
Michael King came on to retire the final two batters of the seventh, but after retiring the first batter in the eighth, he suffered an arm injury on a pitch and had to be removed from the game. Holmes, who had been warming up, had to come on after King’s injury. In 1 2/3 innings, Holmes allowed a hit and struck out three, earning his 17th save.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s contest, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Phillip Peters. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 10 pictures in total.