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Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo homers lift Yankees over Reds

Apr 07, 2023Apr 07, 2023



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CINCINNATI — With the potential high for a hangover on Friday as they came off an intense four-game series with their division rival Blue Jays, the Yankees powered through.

If anything, their series opener against the Reds played back some hits from the series in Toronto: an Aaron Judge home run, a sticky-stuff controversy and an offense that stayed on the attack.

In the end, it was enough for the Yankees to secure a 6-2 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Unbothered by a little more drama — though far less than what they experienced in four games north of the border — the Yankees (27-20) won for the ninth time in their past 12 games.

"We’ve had a very newsworthy road trip," said Clarke Schmidt, who contributed to it on Friday when umpires asked him to wash his hands before he was allowed to pitch the bottom of the fifth. "We play 162 games, so some of them can get a little bit monotonous and a little boring, so I guess it's good to have a little flair here and there."

The Yankees certainly could do without any more foreign-substance scares moving forward, though Schmidt was cleared of wrongdoing after he washed off what he described as a mix of sweat, rosin and the black fur from the inside of his glove.

Otherwise, the Yankees were able to avoid a letdown as they started a three-game series with the Reds (19-25) on a high note.

Judge, who was the center of attention during the Blue Jays series, remained red-hot.

He went deep on right-hander Ben Lively in the top of the first inning — 431 feet, to be exact — for his seventh home run in his past seven games.

"He's impressive when he gets on these runs where you make a mistake in the middle of the plate, just because he can lose it in so many parts of the yard so far," manager Aaron Boone said. "It's fun to watch him play the game right now and get himself into strong positions all the time."

Anthony Rizzo later joined Judge in the power department, crushing a two-run homer 424 feet to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning.

"When you got Anthony Rizzo hitting behind you, who's been red-hot as well, you’re getting good pitches to hit," Judge said. "The most important thing is don't miss them."

But Schmidt and Jimmy Cordero gave those runs back in the bottom of the inning.

Schmidt gave up back-to-back hits to begin the frame, at which point Boone went to Cordero, who immediately gave up a two-run double to Jake Fraley that cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2.

A stolen base and a walk later, the Reds had runners on the corners with no outs.

But Cordero was able to wiggle out of the jam, retiring the next three batters in order on a groundout and two strikeouts looking to keep the lead.

After getting scoreless innings from Albert Abreu and Wandy Peralta, the Yankees got some breathing room in the ninth with a two-out, two-run double from Kyle Higashioka and an RBI single from Harrison Bader.

That spared the Yankees from having to use Clay Holmes in the ninth, as Nick Ramirez closed it out instead to help a taxed bullpen.

"We’re continuing to keep our head down," Schmidt said. "We’ve had a really tough schedule, playing Tampa at home, playing Toronto on the road and coming here. It's been relentless, to say the least. So it's good to continue on the win column and stay on the track we’re on.

"Obviously we’re playing a little bit hurt right now, but we’re playing a really good brand of baseball right now across the board. … These wins mean a lot to us."

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