NEW YORK – Aaron Judge is turning walk-off home runs into a routine.
Judge hit his major league-leading 39th home run for his third walk-off long ball this season, lifting the New York Yankees over the Kansas City Royals 1-0 Thursday night.
New York was held to one hit before Judge drove a first-pitch fastball from Scott Barlow (4-3) into the Kansas City bullpen with one out in the ninth, a 431-foot drive.
“I just try not to think too much in those situations,” Judge said.
Judge sent the crowd of 43,836 into a frenzy, joining Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees with three walk-off home runs in one season. Tommy Henrich had two in 1949 plus another off Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe in the World Series opener.
“I just got done watching the video and it just leaked right back middle,” Barlow said. “It’s what he hits really well.”
Judge had never hit a big league walk-off homer before May 10 against Toronto’s Jordan Romano, then hit another on June 26 off Houston’s Seth Martinez. He became the first Yankee with four walk-off hits of any kind in one season since Claudell Washington in 1988.
“It doesn’t cease to amaze the season he’s putting together. Barlow’s obviously really tough,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Just gets a pitch and to put it up in the air where he did is just, not many people can hit it like that and ride it out like he did.”
Judge also stole his 10th base, a career high.
The Yankees had not won a 1-0 game on a walk-off homer since Ruben Sierra connected off the Blue Jays’ Vinnie Chulk on April 22, 2004.
New York’s 12 walk-off wins are tied for second-most through a team’s first 100 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, one fewer than the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Andrew Benintendi went 0 for 4 with one strikeout in his Yankees debut, facing Kansas City one day after the Royals dealt him to New York for three minor league pitchers.
“Definitely looking forward to getting some rest tonight but it’s been crazy,” Benintendi said. “Meeting a lot of people, running all over the place but I’m glad to be here and I wouldn’t change it.”
New York has an AL-best 67-33 record but had lost 10 of its previous 15 games, getting swept this week in a two-game Subway Series at the NL East-leading Mets and losing both games of a doubleheader last week at AL West-leading…