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Aaron Judge homers twice as Yankees hammer Mariners, Bryce Miller

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Bryce Miller couldn’t hide the disappointment as he stood on the mound and watched as Scott Servais walked toward him.

His outing was done. Really, it could have been over two batters earlier. He was tired and frustrated. His best pitch had been beaten up for the better part of four-plus innings and he didn’t have the command or the counter to make it stop.

For the first time in his young big-league career, Miller was fallible to major-league hitters, including the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, and the results were ugly.

Facing a pieced-together Yankees lineup that centered on the omnipotent slugger that is Aaron Judge, Miller suffered through the worst outing of his career, giving up eight runs in the first five innings – a deficit his teammates couldn’t overcome – in what would be a 10-4 loss on Monday.

Using a mid-90s fastball, usually up in the strike zone, that hitters struggled to hit squarely, Miller had allowed a total of four runs on 13 hits with no homers in his first five MLB starts.

Knowing that Miller used that fastball almost 70% of the time, the Yankees came in ready to hit it.

New York grabbed a 1-0 lead when one-time Mariner Jake Bauers roped a double into the right-field corner to score Harrison Bader in the top of the second.

Seattle answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Jarred Kelenic led off with a single, stole second and later scored on Teoscar Hernandez’s ground out to shortstop.

At least the first homer allowed by Miller in his MLB career would come off the preeminent home-run hitter in baseball. After Gleyber Torres led off with a single, Judge came to the batter’s box for his second plate appearance of the game, having popped out in his first at-bat.

Using mostly off-speed pitches in the at-bat, Miller was faced with a 3-2 count. He fired a fastball that was supposed ride to the inside corner but instead leaked out over the plate at 94 mph. Judge doesn’t miss those sort of mistakes. He turned on it, sending a rocket to left field. Miller and the Mariners tried to coax it to go foul. But the ball, which had an exit velocity of 116.9 mph, was hit too hard. It banged off the foul pole for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead.

Chants of “MVP! MVP!” from a large contingent of Yankee fans in the announced crowd of 34,154 filled T-Mobile Park.

Bauers made it 4-1 in the top of the fourth, turning on another 3-2 fastball and pulling it into the right-field seats.

Julio Rodriguez, who provided most of the Mariners’ offense, cut the lead to 4-2 with his own line-drive homer to left field. Rodriguez hammered a hanging breaking ball from Yankees starter Domingo German.

But Miller couldn’t keep the Mariners within reach in a fifth inning he wouldn’t finish.

Torres led off with a single, Judge narrowly missed another two-run homer, ripping a ball off the wall in left-center for a double. Willie Calhoun scored both runners with a double just inside the first-base bag. Miller’s outing ended with two outs when Isiah Kiner-Falefa pulled a breaking ball just past Eugenio Suarez at third base for another two-run double.

His final line: 42/3 innings pitched, eight runs allowed on 11 hits with no walks, a hit batter and three strikeouts.

The eight runs allowed doubled what he allowed in all his previous starts combined.

Of his 86 pitches, 50 were fastballs. The Yankees swung at them 29 times, whiffing just four times, fouling off 15 and putting 10 in play – six went for hits.

Down 8-2, Rodriguez trimmed two more runs off the Yankees’ lead, singling through the right side to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. But there was now coming back.

Judge hit a solo homer off Juan Then in the sixth inning for the 31st multihomer game of his career. He has 17 homers on the season. He also robbed Teoscar Hernandez of a solo homer in the eighth inning with a brilliant leaping grab in right field.