Judge ties AL HR lead, climbs rookie HR ladder

Slugger's 39th equals A's Davis; Yankee trails only McGwire's 49 in 1987

Judge ties AL HR lead, climbs rookie HR ladder

BALTIMORE -- Not so fast, Khris Davis. Aaron Judge reclaimed a share of the American League home run lead with his 39th blast of the season on Thursday afternoon, slugging a two-run shot in the first inning off Kevin Gausman at Camden Yards.

Powered in part by Judge's early blast, the Yankees mashed their way to a 9-1 victory over the Orioles, securing their first series win in Baltimore since September 2013. Judge's nine homers against Orioles pitching are his most against any club this season.

"Just stay aggressive, don't miss your pitch," Judge said. "There's been a couple of at-bats this series that they left a couple over the middle that I just either missed or didn't swing at. My mindset today was just to be aggressive and try to use the middle of the field."

Among all Major Leaguers, Judge and the Athletics' Davis (39) trail only Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, who had hit 53 homers entering play Thursday. According to Statcast™, Judge's 39th traveled 420 feet into the right-center-field bleachers, coming off the slugger's bat at 109.8 mph.

Judge, Gray on 9-1 win over O's

"We've just been playing our ballgame the past couple of days, just kind of passing the baton and getting those clutch hits with runners on base," Judge said. "We needed them, and our pitching staff came through with some quality starts."

It was Judge's third homer in 12 career at-bats against Gausman, against whom he is 6-for-12 (.500). With 39 homers, Judge also passed Frank Robinson and Wally Berger for the second-most home runs hit by a rookie, now trailing only the 49 that Mark McGwire hit for the 1987 Athletics.

"I think we're going to look back on this year and we're going to say, 'Man, this kid had a really good year,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes when you're so good in the first half, you're compared to those numbers, which are pretty unrealistic to do for a whole season."

Judge is just the third rookie in history to hit 30 or more homers while scoring 100 or more runs and working 100 or more walks, joining Ted Williams (1939) and Al Rosen (1950). Judge also has become the first Yankee since Jason Giambi in 2006 to walk at least 100 times in a season.

"[It means] a lot, especially because of the team I have around me," Judge said. "If I just get on base for guys like [Didi Gregorius], [Greg Bird], [Matt Holliday] and [Starlin Castro], they're going to put the ball in play and make things happen. If I can just get on base for them, whether it's a hit or a walk, anything, I'm happy with anything."

After slugging a Major League-leading 30 homers prior to the All-Star break and winning the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, Judge went into an extended slump but has recently showed signs of emerging. Thursday's homer marked Judge's second in the Yankees' last four games, having also hit a two-run shot off Addison Reed of the Red Sox on Sept. 3.

"He's had a special year," Girardi said. "He's scored [104] runs, [105] walks, he's played outstanding defense, he runs the bases extremely well. That home run to me is a really good sign. That's what we saw in the first half, and that's a really good sign."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.