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Yankees credit Aaron Judge for waking up slumbering offense in walk-off win against Tigers

The Yankees were three outs away from being shut out for the sixth time this season, and continuing their string of offensive ineptitude that had them playing .500 baseball over the last 10 games.

But in the bottom of the ninth against the Tigers’ James Foley, one of the best relievers this season, an Aaron Judge lead-off single gave the Yankees some life on Friday night. It wasn’t a home run or the tying or winning hit, but it rejuvenated a Yankees offense that has struggled mightily.

"When Judgey goes, we all go. He’s such a big part of our offense,” Anthony Rizzo told YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits after his walk-off hit. “He's our Captain. He's our leader. Him getting on was a big exhale.”

The rest of the team echoed the sentiments of Friday night’s hero.

“I was trying to exhale all night. Definitely a good way to start it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said with a smile. “Good job by Aaron for setting the table for us and then just some really good at-bats to take it from there.”

It was just the Yankees’ third hit of the game, and Judge’s only hit of the game. Three more hits would follow. The first was an Alex Verdugo bunt single, a Giancarlo Stanton double to tie the game, and Rizzo’s single to send the Bronx crowd home happy.

“It’s important for Judge to get on right there,” Stanton said. “Dugie had a great at-bat and for him to get on and give me an opportunity to drive him in was big time.”

The Yankees needed Friday’s win. In the midst of playing 17 straight games, the Yankees lost three of four at Baltimore to start the week. In that series, New York scored just six runs and hitters not named Juan Soto batted just .145 in Baltimore.

After eight shutout innings on Friday, it looked like more of the same for the Yankees but Judge got on and the team was off and running.

“With this offense, it takes one guy to get on. And you gotta keep grinding,” Rizzo said. “Winning like this when we’re not clicking is big down the road. I know it’s just one game, but every game matters.”

“Coming off the tough series we need to right the ship, we need to get back on track. To have the eight shutout again, it was tough, but the biggest thing is keeping that positivity,” Verdugo explained. “We had our captain starting that inning the right way. Whenever you get the leadoff guy, it’s a whole other vibe…we just have to get him out there.”

Friday’s win was great to get the Yankees back in the win column, but this team has had a difficult time maintaining that offensive intensity this season.

The Yankees hope it can spark Judge to hit like the former MVP he is. So far this season, Judge is batting just .200 with a .336 OBP.

With two more games against Detroit before a much-needed off day, a win like Friday’s could be the spark that gets the Yankees, and Judge, back to scoring runs.

“We’ve got a lot of good hitters,” Boone said. “It’s been a slow week for us, but you hope something like this can kind of ignite that fire a little bit and get the offense cranking."