Aaron Judge hit his latest homer Tuesday and then quickly exited. Naturally, there were thoughts the New York Yankees slugger might be injured.
It turns out Judge is just fine, and the Yankees get another chance at seeing his hot bat guide them to another home victory Wednesday night in the finale of a two-game series against the Atlanta Braves.
Judge hit his major-league-leading ninth homer in the fifth inning Tuesday, and the Yankees raced out to an eight-run lead en route to a 9-6 win. He also was one of only two starters to be lifted from the game, prompting concerns about his health, especially on the same day Giancarlo Stanton was diagnosed with a Grade 1 left hamstring strain.
Judge's latest blast occurred after the Yankees spent a four-game series at Tampa Bay, which has an artificial playing surface.
"Coming off of four days on the turf and with a little bit of leverage there, just trying to be smart with these guys," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Judge hasn't really had that day down. I gave him the DH day (Aug. 5 in the opener of a doubleheader), and I just want to make sure we're being smart with everyone."
New York's Mike Ford said of Judge, "His start has been incredible. He's put his work in, and he works as hard if not harder than everyone, so it's awesome to see."
Judge has 20 RBIs, tied with Colorado's Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead.
While the Yankees are hoping to improve to 6-0 at Yankee Stadium and homer in their 14th straight regular-season game in the Bronx since Sept. 3, Atlanta is hoping to avoid a third straight loss after allowing 22 runs in the past two games.
The Braves are also hoping Ronald Acuna Jr. can be in the lineup after he sat out Tuesday with a sore left wrist. Acuna was in the original lineup but scratched shortly before the first pitch. He is due to have his wrist re-examined Wednesday.
Manager Brian Snitker said he did not know Acuna was experiencing wrist pain until batting practice and seemed to think the outfielder might have injured himself diving into a base.
"We didn't want to take any chances," Snitker said.
Acuna was sidelined two days after he hit three homers in a doubleheader sweep at Philadelphia. Without him in the Atlanta lineup, Marcell Ozuna homered, but the Braves went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position as Travis d'Arnaud struck out four times.
With or without Acuna, the Braves will face Masahiro Tanaka, who will make his third start since returning from a mild concussion.
Tanaka last pitched Friday in a 1-0 loss at Tampa Bay, when he took a no-decision after allowing one hit in five shutout innings. Tanaka threw 51 pitches in 2 2/3 innings in his season debut Aug. 1 against Boston, then threw 59 pitches Friday when he retired the last 13 hitters he faced.
"I'm pretty built up," Tanaka said Tuesday through an interpreter. "Physically I feel fine. As far as how deep I'll go in tomorrow's game, I don't think there's much of a drastic increase in the number of pitches that I'll be able to get."
Tanaka's lone start against the Braves was Aug. 28, 2015, in Atlanta when he allowed three runs in seven innings of a 15-4 win.
The Braves will go with a bullpen game on Wednesday. Huascar Ynoa will open the game three days after throwing 39 pitches to nine hitters in 2 1/3 innings Sunday in Philadelphia. He gave up one run on one hit and one walk while striking out one.
--Field Level Media