Aaron Judge delivers game-winning hit as Yankees rally past Blue Jays in ninth to end losing skid

TORONTO — Before walking to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game Wednesday, Aaron Judge was having a fairly miserable series.

The Yankees captain was 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts, punctuating a slow start to the season.

But he delivered just in time to avoid a complete clunker of a series for himself and the Yankees.

Juan Soto #22 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Aaron Judge #99 on a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Getty Images

Judge ripped a two-run single down the third-base line to lift the Yankees to a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays, snapping a three-game losing streak and narrowly avoiding a three-game sweep at Rogers Centre.

“You just leave it all out there,” Judge said. “It doesn’t matter what happened before. If you had a good game, if you had a bad game, you can change the course of everything with just one swing.”

On the way to their sixth comeback win of the year, the Yankees (13-6) erased a 4-1 deficit and put together a four-run ninth to win it and finish off a 3-3 road trip.

Judge’s clutch hit came on a full count against lefty Tim Mayza, the same reliever who served up the outfielder’s 61st home run in 2022.

The Blue Jays (10-9) appeared to have a right-hander ready in the bullpen — Judge said he was preparing for either arm — but they stuck with Mayza and paid the price.

“Perfect situation for [Judge],” said Giancarlo Stanton, who sparked the ninth-inning rally with a leadoff home run. “That’s the type of at-bat that gets him going and he doesn’t shy away from. We want him there in every big moment, so he didn’t disappoint.”

Marcus Stroman was solid again for the Yankees on Wednesday. Getty Images

In the bottom of the ninth, Anthony Volpe finished the game with a terrific play up the middle, sliding to snag a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounder and firing to first for the final out.

The Yankees had entered the ninth inning trailing 4-2 before Stanton led off with a 437-foot shot off Erik Swanson that Judge said lifted the dugout.

Gleyber Torres, who had been 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on the day, followed with a single up the middle before Alex Verdugo doubled to the right-field corner to put the tying run on third.

One out later, Mayza entered from the bullpen and Jose Trevino pinch hit for Austin Wells.

Juan Soto singles for the Yankees against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Trevino, who was pinch hitting for only the 15th time in his career, delivered a line-drive single off the glove of drawn-in second baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa to tie the game at four.

Then with two outs, Juan Soto capped off another strong game — going 3-for-3 with a double, home run, two walks and an outfield assist — by drawing a full-count walk to load the bases for Judge.

The captain was in a 5-for-36 skid and has yet to fully take off this season. But he came through when the Yankees needed him Wednesday.

“At the end of the day, we all know what kind of player he is,” Soto said. “Tough series for him, you just gotta forget about it and keep going. At the end of the day, he got the hit in the right moment and the right spot. That’s what we’ve been looking for is to see those hits that he gets to help the team win the game.”

Before the ninth inning, Soto and Oswaldo Cabrera had been responsible for five of the Yankees’ six hits.

Daulton Varsho #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays gets a hug from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 as he hits a solo home run in the seventh inning on Wednesday. Getty Images

Soto doubled home Cabrera (who had also doubled) in the fifth inning off Kevin Gausman and then went deep for a solo shot against lefty reliever Genesis Cabrera in the eighth to pull the Yankees within 4-2.

In the three-game set, Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi and Chris Bassitt combined to throw 17 ¹/₃ innings in which they allowed just three runs on 12 hits and six walks while striking out 20.

The Yankees had hung around in all three games before finally pouncing against the Blue Jays bullpen on Wednesday.

“It was pretty incredible,” said Marcus Stroman, who gave the Yankees a chance by giving up two runs across 5 ¹/₃ innings. “I feel like this lineup is so potent, they can explode at any time. … We kind of feel like that’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when. To get it late in that game, it feels pretty good to salvage [the series] and not get swept here in Toronto.”