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Yankees overpowered by Teoscar Hernandez in 11-3 loss to Dodgers as Aaron Judge homers twice

In a series headlined by Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and several of baseball’s other top stars, it was the less-heralded Teoscar Hernandez who continued to stake his claim as the biggest game-breaker in Yankees vs. Dodgers.

Hernandez erupted for two home runs and a career-high-tying six RBI in his Dodgers’ 11-3 win at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, a night after he delivered the extra-innings game-winner in Friday’s series opener.

His heroics have the Dodgers a win away from a three-game sweep in what many billed as a potential World Series preview.

On Saturday, Hernandez hit a second-inning solo home run off of Nestor Cortes; added a sixth-inning RBI force out; and broke the game open with an eighth-inning grand slam against Tommy Kahnle.

“We don’t want to lose games, especially to these guys, but that’s a good team, and they’ve got the first two,” said Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo, who misplayed a Freddie Freeman fly ball into a sixth-inning double, setting up Hernandez’s second RBI.

“Now we come back tomorrow and salvage.”

A member of the Blue Jays from 2017-22, the righty-hitting Hernandez now boasts 16 home runs and 46 RBI in 78 career games against the Yankees.

His two-run double in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win on Friday broke a scoreless tie in the 11th inning.

“I’ve faced them a lot,” Hernandez, an All-Star in 2021, said of his success against the Yankees after Friday’s series-opening victory. “I played in this division for six years and I know, kind of, the way they’re gonna pitch me.”

Saturday also saw Ohtani and Judge deliver the kind of star-powered back-and-forth that made Yankees-Dodgers such a compelling matchup on paper.

Ohtani, a two-time MVP whom Los Angeles made the highest-paid player in MLB history during the offseason, was 0-for-6 in this weekend’s series when he finally broke through on Saturday with a third-inning RBI single.

The hit, which Ohtani poked into left field against a 95-mph Cortes fastball, gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

But Judge quickly answered.

In the bottom of the third, Judge lined a solo home run that just cleared the left-field wall, caroming off of a Dodgers fan who was sitting in the front row. An umpire review confirmed the home run, which tied the game, 2-2, and earned an eruption from a sold-out crowd of 48,374.

Judge added another solo shot in the ninth inning, giving him an MLB-best 23 home runs this season.

“They have some outstanding players over there, and obviously we all know what Aaron’s doing here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You’re seeing some of the games very, very best on the stage here.”

The dueling blows added another chapter in what has become a dynamic rivalry between Ohtani and Judge.

The Yankees originally hoped to pair the power-hitting Judge with the two-way sensation Ohtani, heavily pursuing the Japanese sensation before he signed with the Angels before the 2018 season.

The superstars alternated American League MVP trophies over the past three seasons, with Ohtani winning the honor in 2021 and 2023 but finishing second in 2022 behind Judge, who hit an AL single-season record 62 home runs that year.

Ohtani then joined the Dodgers in December on a 10-year, $700 million contract featuring heavily deferred money, nearly doubling in total value the nine-year, $360 million deal Judge signed with the Yankees a year earlier.

Ohtani went 0-for-5 in Friday’s series opener. With his 1-for-4 performance on Saturday, Ohtani improved to an uncharacteristic 7-for-55 (.127) in 15 career games at Yankee Stadium.

Judge and Ohtani are two of the five former MVPs participating in this weekend’s series, along with the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton and the Dodgers’ Freeman and Mookie Betts. Freeman hit a two-run double in the ninth inning on Saturday.

Eliminating a bit of the luster is the absence of Juan Soto, the Yankees’ marquee offseason acquisition, who on Saturday missed his second consecutive game with left forearm inflammation.

Cortes entered Saturday’s game with a 1.12 ERA in the Bronx this season but allowed four runs in 5.1 innings to the Dodgers. He also gave up a home run to Enrique Hernandez in the fifth inning.

“I executed a lot of pitches,” Cortes said. “I just didn’t get the results I wanted.”

Dodgers rookie starter Gavin Stone allowed eight hits but only two runs over his 5.2 innings. The Yankees went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-5 against Stone.

“I think we did a good job of getting runners on, working counts, and we had our chances, but obviously he made the big pitches when he needed to,” Verdugo said of Stone.

The Yankees and Dodgers have met in 11 World Series, including seven before the latter moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1957. The Yankees won eight of those meetings, but the Dodgers took the most recent one in 1981.

This weekend marks the Dodgers’ first trip to Yankee Stadium since 2016. Los Angeles fans made their presence felt Saturday, parading through the Bronx before the game and later breaking out loud “let’s go Dodgers” chants as their team piled on runs.

The series continues to command national attention, with Apple TV+ broadcasting Friday’s game; Fox televising Saturday’s; and ESPN set to air Sunday night’s.

Former Yankees Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were at Yankee Stadium on Saturday as studio analysts for Fox, while CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera were also in the house.

With the loss, the Yankees fell to 45-21 but still own the best record in the American League. The Dodgers improved to 41-25.

The Yankees will try to stave off the sweep on Sunday by sending breakout rookie Luis Gil (8-1, 1.82 ERA) to the hill. The Dodgers are set to start Tyler Glasnow, who is 6-4 with a 2.93 ERA in his first season with Los Angeles.