In Pittsburgh, The cost recently increased again on Wednesday night. After Hal Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, expressed “hope” that Aaron Judge would remain a Yankee for a long time, the slugger once again proved why he should.
The Yankees defeated the Pirates 16-0 in a rain-delayed game at PNC Park as Judge hit his third grand slam of his career and the Yankees blasted a season-high tying six home runs.
As they prepare to travel to Boston for their final stop on their four-city, 10-game road trip and a crucial American League East division matchup, the Yankees ended a two-game losing streak and split the two-game series. The Yankees are tied with the Astros for the fewest losing streaks in the majors this season with just five, and none longer than two games. After a loss this season, they improved to 17-6 with a season-high 22 hits.
For the win, Luis Severino threw six innings without allowing a run while scattering four hits and striking out three.
In the sixth, Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo hit consecutive home runs, Kyle Higashioka hit a solo shot in the seventh, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solo shot in the eighth, and Aaron Hicks hit a grand slam off infielder Josh VanMeter in the ninth.
Judge’s 30th home run of the season gave him a major league-leading total. According to ESPN, he is the first Yankee to hit at least 30 home runs in consecutive seasons since Curtis Granderson in 2011–12. The Yankees hit six home runs on Wednesday night, the shortest of which was a 384-footer to left field, but it may also turn out to be the most expensive.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Steinbrenner said of Judge, “Well, there’s no doubt we are hopeful that that is the case.” But there’s still a lot to talk about. Of course, I’m always willing to talk. And we’re going to do that at some point or another; we just won’t be discussing whether or not that occurs. Before the season is over, we won’t discuss anything.
Judge, who is expected to become the most sought-after free agent this winter, declined a contract extension worth $230 million and was ready to have his salary for this year arbitrarily determined (the team and player came to a compromise at $19 million with incentives). With the Yankees’ proposed annual salary of $30.5 million, he would have been the second-highest paid position player in team history (or annual average value) behind Gerrit Cole. He would have had the second-highest average annual value (AAV) of any outfielder in the league, just behind Mike Trout.
That was before Judge had a disastrous first half of the season and set an Opening Day deadline for extension talks.
Judge had a.281/.360/.612 slash line to start Wednesday night’s 82nd game of the year, along with a.972 OPS and 29 home runs.
This cannot now serve as a diversion as the Yankees attempt to win their first World Series since 2009, according to Judge and Steinbrenner. If there were behind-the-scenes negotiations, Steinbrenner stated that there would be no updates and that the fans would have to wait until after the season to find what would become of the franchise’s face.
But on Wednesday night, Judge persisted in arguing his point with a bat.