By MIKE FITZPATRICK
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Aaron Judge and his teammates were joking about which one of them would hit the home run that gave the New York Yankees a major league-record 28 straight games with a long ball.
The 6-foot-7 slugger, batting second in the lineup, predicted the mark might fall in the first inning.
Judge was right, even though he never had a crack at it. The first chance went to leadoff man DJ LeMahieu — and nobody else got one.
LeMahieu and Judge hit back-to-back homers to begin the bottom of the first inning, and New York held on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Tuesday.
“I was just trying to do what he did. He’s been our MVP,” Judge said. “DJ stole the show. We’re happy for him. No better person I want breaking that record.”
Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion each poked a solo shot over the short right field porch for the Yankees, who shook off another injury to Giancarlo Stanton and won for the 10th time in 11 games. The AL East leaders are 8-1 on a 10-game homestand that wraps up Wednesday.
Aroldis Chapman allowed a run in the ninth before retiring Freddy Galvis on an easy grounder with two aboard for his 23rd save in 25 tries.
“It certainly wasn’t perfect tonight, but the long ball obviously played a huge role,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Stanton exited in the fourth with a bruised right knee and was scheduled for an MRI. He got tangled up with Toronto pitcher Clayton Richard (0-4) in the first while getting thrown out on a headfirst slide into third base.
The 2017 NL MVP just returned last Tuesday from injuries to his biceps, shoulder and calf that had sidelined him since March 31.
Nonetheless, the Yankees wasted no time rewriting the record book on this night.
LeMahieu hit his fourth career leadoff shot into the second deck down the left field line, breaking a mark New York shared for one day with the 2002 Texas Rangers, who homered in 27 consecutive games.
“We’ve got something special,” Judge said.
The Yankees quickly added another one, too, when Judge followed with an opposite-field drive into the right field stands. It was the first home run since April 20 for Judge, who returned Friday from an oblique injury that sidelined him for two months.
It was the second time this season and 11th in franchise history the Yankees started a game with consecutive home runs.
Bronx Bombers, indeed.
Rookie left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. (3-0) struck out five over 4 1/3 solid innings in relief of opener Chad Green. They combined to retire the first 12 Blue Jays batters before Cavan Biggio doubled leading off the fifth.
Danny Jansen’s double in the sixth set up Eric Sogard’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that chased Cortes and cut it to 3-2. Tommy Kahnle escaped trouble with two strikeouts and Stephen Tarpley, recalled from Triple-A earlier in the day, tossed a perfect seventh.
Zack Britton worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Chapman got three outs. Randal Grichuk’s run-scoring single with two down trimmed it to 4-3 for the young Blue Jays.
“A lot of progress. We’re playing good baseball,” rookie manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Torres went deep in the second and Encarnacion hit his AL-high 24th homer — third with the Yankees — off reliever Tim Mayza in the eighth.
Tagged right off the bat, Richard settled down and lasted six innings. The former backup quarterback at Michigan, pitching on a night when his alma mater was playing for the NCAA baseball championship in the College World Series, allowed three runs and eight hits.
The Wolverines lost 4-1 to Vanderbilt, setting up a winner-take-all Game 3 on Wednesday night.
“I follow from afar. It’s definitely cool to see,” Richard said.