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story.lead_photo.caption New York Yankees' Aaron Judge acknowledges the crowd after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in New York. It was Judge's 50th home run, which sets a new record the most home runs hit by a rookie in the MLB.

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge circled the bases for the 50th time this season, breaking Mark McGwire's major league record for home runs by a rookie, and returned to the Yankees dugout to exchange handshakes, hugs and high-fives with teammates.

And then, he walked up the steps and back onto the field.

Embarrassed by the attention, he managed four short waves with his right hand before heading back to the bench just three seconds later.

"They kind of told me: 'You got to go out there. You got to go out there,' " he said. "First curtain call. I hope it was a good one."

Judge had his second consecutive two-home run game in an 11-3 rout of Kansas City on Monday. The Yankees won for the 16th time in 22 games.

The 6-7, 25-year-old slugger tied McGwire's 1987 mark with a two-run drive to right-center off Jakob Junis (8-3) in the third inning that put New York ahead 3-0, driving a 93 mph high fastball 389 feet.

Judge pulled a hanging changeup 408 feet for a solo shot that bounced into the left-center bleachers against Trevor Cahill in the seventh for a 7-3 lead. It was his fourth multihome run game this month and seventh this year.

He was hitting .329 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI at the all-star break.

"The way he started, I thought he was going to hit 60, 70," Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez said through a translator.

Judge slumped to a .179 average with 7 home runs and 16 RBI from the start of the second half through Aug. 31, while striking out 67 times in 44 games.

"I saw frustration," Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. "I didn't see him getting down. I never saw him stop working. I never saw him not believe in himself."

Judge revived to hit .307 with 13 home runs and 26 RBI in September, leaving him with a .283 average, 108 RBI, an AL-leading 120 walks and a big league-high 203 strikeouts.

"Everybody's going to say, oh, the strikeouts," Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier said. "But I think if I'm an owner of a GM, I'll take 300 strikeouts with the year he's putting up."

Judge has homered against every AL opponent, and his total is second in the majors to the 57 of Miami's Giancarlo Stanton.

"I'd rather be in a good position in the playoffs and holding up a World Series trophy than an AL MVP trophy," Judge said.

Boston's Fred Lynn in 1975 and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 are the only winners of the rookie and MVP awards in the same year.

"We can honestly say that we're in this spot because of him," Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said. "I think that's what an MVP is."

After striking out 42 times in 84 at-bats during last year's late-season call-up, Judge didn't even know he had won the right-field job until three days before the Yankees' opener.

"He's handled it with grace and humility, and he's never lost who he is and his ability to change someone's day," Girardi said. "He's a natural-born leader for me. It's almost like he's a big brother. He watches out over everyone. He waits for the players to come off the field. You got the whole package."

Greg Bird added a two-run home run in the sixth, his seventh home run this season and fourth in nine games. Sanchez followed Judge in the seventh with back-to-back home runs for the third time this year, raising his total to 33.

Sabathia (13-5) took a 6-0 lead into the seventh, when Salvador Perez hit a two-run home run and Mike Moustakas chased him by going deep four pitches later. Sabathia improved to 9-0 in 11 starts this year after Yankees' losses and 21-11 in his career against Kansas City. He allowed six hits in six-plus innings, tying Yankees great Whitey Ford with 236 wins.

New York began the day five games behind AL East-leading Boston and needs one victory or a Minnesota loss to clinch home field in the AL wild-card game Oct. 3.

Kansas City trails the Twins by six games with six games left and headed to its final homestand before Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Moustakas can become free agents.

"I haven't really thought about it too much yet," Moustakas said. "I think it will settle in when we get to the field."

Judge got both home run balls back and probably will give them to his parents. He joked about Sanchez following his record-setter with a long ball.

"Maybe I should do that after every at-bat," Judge said with a smirk, "just do a little quick curtain call before Gary hits."

Sports on 09/26/2017

Print Headline: No rookie stands with Judge in HRs

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