NEW YORK — Leadoff man Aaron Judge singled twice during a six-run first inning off Corey Kluber as the New York Yankees started with seven straight hits for the first time since 1990 and dismantled the Tampa Bay Rays 10-3 on Saturday.
Josh Donaldson scored early and Giancarlo Stanton connected late on a lob as both players returned to the lineup to help the AL East-leading Yankees pull to within 4 1/2 games of Tampa Bay. New York also clinched the season tiebreaker over the Rays should the teams finish even atop the division.
Judge, who leads the majors with 55 home runs, hit three singles to raise his average to .307. He is the first Yankees player to reach base at least three times in seven consecutive games since Mickey Mantle in June 1957.
Judge is also the seventh Yankee to reach base at least three times in at least seven consecutive games. In addition to Mantle, Babe Ruth did it in 1920, Lou Gehrig accomplished it twice in 1936 and 1937, Tommy Henrich did it in 1938, and Joe DiMaggio along with Frank Crosetti accomplished the feat in 1939.
“Obviously, every team is a little bit different in how they attack and pitchers are a little bit different, but we’ve seen teams in some situations really battle around him and stay away from him,” coach Aaron Boone said.
“The Rays tend to go after him a little bit more, but take what the game gives you. Mike Schmidt always told me that when I was a kid,” said Boone, whose father, Bob, was a fellow Hall of Fame third baseman in Philadelphia.
Judge has reached base in 12 straight games, reaching base multiple times in 11 games. He also reached base at least three times for a league-leading 41st time.
The Yankees opened a game with seven straight hits – all singles – for the first time since starting a 15-3 victory over Baltimore with eight straight on September 25, 1990.
“It was just a collection of really good at-bats,” Boone said.
Judge’s RBI single with two outs in the first chased Kluber (10-8) after 32 pitches. It was the two-time Cy Young Award winner’s shortest career outing.
“Too many mistakes,” Kluber said.
Donaldson returned from the paternity list and hit an RBI single that bounced off the top of the fence in the first. After hitting his own bat on the single, Donaldson homered to second. He had missed four games after the birth of his daughter.
“Being home, being around my family going through this experience is very special and just putting things in place and having this joy to come out here and play the game that I love to play,” said Donaldson.
Stanton hit his 25th home run, connecting on a 47 mph lob by catcher Christian Bethancourt in the eighth. Stanton had been limited to pinch-hitting appearances in the previous two games since fouling off a ball on his left foot in the sixth on Monday.
Stanton declared himself ready to pitch after texting Boone and snapping a 17-game hitting streak. He hit 25 homers for the ninth time in his career.
“Hey, everything counts,” Stanton said of taking out a position player.
Stanton’s homer was his first extra-base hit in 55 at-bats since he homered and won the MVP award in the All-Star Game on July 19. He had since missed a month with Achilles tendinitis.
New York starter Jameson Taillon (13-4) gave up three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings and picked up his 50th career win.
Judge led off the first with a single as the Yankees broke through to start. Rookie Oswaldo Cabrera hit a two-run single and scored on Kyle Higashioka’s groundout in New York’s first out.
Wander Franco hit an RBI single and Harold Ramirez added a two-run single as Tampa Bay lost for the second time in 11 games.
Donaldson hit his 13th homer in the second. He stumbled home in the seventh on a Calvin Faucher wild pitch.
Struggling LF Aaron Hicks didn’t play after missing two flyballs in the fourth inning Friday and going down midgame.
Hicks didn’t catch the balls hit by Franco and Randy Arozarena that led to doubles.
On Franco’s hit, the ball bounced off his glove along the left-field foul line and Hicks initially thought he caught the ball and was fouled before reacting.
Boone said he planned to have a chat with Hicks, who hit twice Friday and is hitting .211.
“You’ve always had to get to that point where I think things affect you,” Boone said. “Somehow to become that target. Hopefully that’s something that you get to that point where you get over it and it doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t get to you.”
Rays: LHP Shane McClanahan (left shoulder impingement) may take a light session Sunday and is on track to return from the injured list when he is eligible next Thursday.
Yankees: 1B Anthony Rizzo (headaches from epidural injection) could begin increasing activity Sunday. Rizzo’s could be back by the end of the upcoming road trip. . RHP Luis Severino (strained right lat) will make another rehab start Thursday and could rejoin the rotation Sept. 21 against Pittsburgh. . LHP Aroldis Chapman (foot infection) will appear in the rehab game for Double-A Somerset Sunday along with RHP Miguel Castro (right shoulder strain), OF Harrison Bader (right foot plantar fasciitis) and LHP Zack Britton (Tommy John surgery ). . LHP Scott Efross (strained right shoulder) threw a bullpen session Saturday.
Tampa Bay RHP Luis Patino (1-1, 4.34) vs. New York RHP Domingo German (2-3, 3.27 ERA) Sunday.
Judge, Yankees start 7-hit streak, beat Kluber, Rays originally appeared on NBCSports.com