AP Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Aaron Judge realized he hadn’t done much to impress his parents, who were in the Big A stands for his first game of the season in his home state.
He struck out twice early, and he airmailed a throw to the plate that allowed a run to score during the Angels’ tying rally.
With one majestic swing in the eighth inning, the rookie made a happy memory for Patty and Wayne Judge — along with the other thousands of roaring Yankees fans in the Orange County stands.
Judge hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth to lead New York to its sixth consecutive victory, 5-3 over Los Angeles on Monday night.
One day after hitting a 495-foot homer in the Bronx, Judge hit an emphatic 438-foot shot on the opposite coast for his fourth homer in three games and the 22nd of his belief-defying season. Judge’s parents made the trip down from central California to watch their son’s latest feat in the opener of the Yankees’ seven-game Golden State road trip.
“Yeah, didn’t start off too well, with two K’s, but that’s baseball,” Judge said with a grin. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
The Fresno State product’s first big league homer in California thrilled a road crowd that was loaded with supporters of the AL East leaders. They rained down repeated chants of “M-V-P!” on the rookie leading their team’s revival after just one playoff appearance in the past four years.
“There’s a ton of excitement around this kid,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We know what he’s done is special. … It was really good to hear (so many fans). He’s a big part of it. The winning is a big part of it.”
Didi Gregorius went 4 for 4 with a walk and drove in two runs for the Yankees, while Chase Headley added an RBI single.
Danny Espinosa and Cameron Maybin got back-to-back RBI hits in the seventh for the Angels.
Jose Alvarez (0-3) gave up Aaron Hicks’ one-out double before Judge’s homer.
Dellin Betances struck out the side in the ninth for his sixth save, his first since May 27.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia curiously allowed closer Bud Norris to pitch to Judge with first base open, and the AL homers leader made him pay. Scioscia said he hoped Norris would pitch cautiously around Judge, knowing he had a base open.
“Obviously, you tip your cap,” Scioscia said. “He hit it a long way.”
Gregorius extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games with three straight singles off Alex Meyer in the first five innings. His four hits tied his career high.
Masahiro Tanaka snapped his five-start losing streak while pitching four-hit ball into the seventh inning. After his recent run of ugly defeats, Tanaka’s start was pushed back one day to the road trip opener, partly so he could face the Angels’ unintimidating lineup.
“It’s good to get an extra recovery day, but I was ready to go (Sunday),” Tanaka said through a translator.
The Japanese right-hander largely shut down the Angels after Kole Calhoun’s first-inning homer, but he yielded Espinosa’s two-out RBI single before reliever Tyler Clippard (1-3) gave up Maybin’s tying RBI double in the seventh. Both runs were unearned in a rally aided by Headley’s one-out error on Eric Young Jr.’s grounder.
BIG ON BIG
The 6-foot-9 Meyer struck out the 6-foot-7 Judge twice, but also yielded five singles and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning. Still, Meyer hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a home start this season.
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez got the night off despite going 9 for 21 in his previous five games.
Angels: Reliever Cam Bedrosian will make a rehab appearance at Class A Inland Empire this week in his return from a groin injury that has kept him out for nearly two weeks.
Yankees: CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA) has won five consecutive starts, all of them coming after a New York loss. The Northern California native has a career 4.03 ERA at the Big A.
Angels: J.C. Ramirez (6-4, 6.55 ERA) got another win last week despite yielding a career-high 10 hits to the Tigers. Los Angeles has won seven of the converted reliever’s last nine starts.
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