NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge became the first big leaguer with 40 homers this season, smashed a grand slam for No. 41 and robbed a home run in right field as the New York Yankees rallied to beat the Kansas City Royals 11-5 Friday night.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa lined a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning as New York completed its major league-leading 29th comeback victory.
A free agent at the end of the season, Judge is on pace for 66 home runs, which would top Roger Maris’ club record of 61 in 1961. Judge, Maris and Babe Ruth in 1928 are the only Yankees with at least 40 homers by the end of July, per MLB.com.
Judge was lavished with “MVP!” chants throughout the night, none louder than after his slam in the eighth cemented yet another Yankees rally. He also had a single and finished with six RBIs.
Judge and Anthony Rizzo homered early on a rainy night in the Bronx, but Kansas City came back against Gerrit Cole, with Whit Merrifield’s two-run single in the fifth ending a scoreless drought of 31 2/3 innings for the Royals.
Salvador Perez followed Merrifield with a go-ahead, three-run homer in his return from the injured list for a 5-3 lead.
New York erased it by batting around during a messy eighth inning that followed a 23-minute rain delay.
Rizzo and Gleyber Torres hit one-out singles, then shortstop Maikel Garcia booted Josh Donaldson’s grounder off the slick infield.
Andrew Benintendi’s bases-loaded grounder was gloved by diving first baseman Nick Pratto, but pitcher Scott Barlow (4-4) failed to cover first, giving Benintendi an RBI single — his first hit with the Yankees after a trade from the Royals on Wednesday.
Barlow’s next pitch skipped near Aaron Hicks’ feet, and plate umpire Chris Guccione called an RBI hit by pitch. That ruling was reversed via video replay,…