BALTIMORE – Aaron Judge is giving the New York Yankees an immediate boost — at a time when their front office has some tough decisions to make.
Judge homered and singled twice in his second game back from the injured list and the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 on Saturday night. Giancarlo Stanton and Kyle Higashioka went deep as well for New York, which is still 3 1/2 games behind Toronto and Houston for the last two wild cards in the American League.
That's a tricky spot with Tuesday's trade deadline approaching.
“We've had years where we stick with who we got. We've had years where we get some bullpen arms, starters, a big bat,” Judge said. “It comes down to us doing our job on the field and then letting them take care of the rest. We'll see what happens."
The Yankees knocked out struggling Orioles starter Tyler Wells (7-6) in the third inning. In the sixth, Isiah Kiner-Falefa capped a 10-pitch at-bat with a three-run double to make it 8-3.
Judge has three walks and three hits in nine plate appearances since returning Friday from the toe injury that kept him out since early June.
Ryan Mountcastle homered for the Orioles, but Clarke Schmidt (7-6) made it through five tough innings and the New York bullpen took it from there.
The Orioles remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay atop the AL East.
Judge walked three times Friday night, but the Yankees lost that game 1-0 on a ninth-inning homer by Baltimore's Anthony Santander. New York's offense was relentless a night later.
Stanton's first-inning drive easily cleared the big wall in left field at Camden Yards. Mountcastle tied it in the second, and Baltimore went ahead 2-1 on an RBI infield single by Ramón Urías. That lead was short-lived.
Judge hit a two-run shot — 442 feet to center field — in the third. Then Gleyber Torres added a sacrifice fly an inning later.
Santander made it 4-3 with an RBI groundout in the fifth, but New York broke the game open in the sixth. Cole Irvin allowed a leadoff homer by Higashioka — his third hit of the night — and then one-out singles to Judge, Stanton and Anthony Rizzo.
Bryan Baker came in and struck out DJ LeMahieu, but after fouling off five pitches, Kiner-Falefa cleared the bases with a line drive to left.
“One of the best at-bats of the season right there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Wells entered the game with a major league-leading WHIP of 0.99, but he allowed three runs, three hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings. In three starts since the All-Star break, he's lasted just nine innings total.
“I think we’re going to be talking about a lot of things here coming up,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Obviously, we’re in a weird week. He’s had tough times his last few starts. I think there are going to be discussions going on.”
Boone said he's leaning toward giving Judge a day off in the series finale Sunday night. The Yankees are in a stretch of 13 games in 13 days.
“I kind of look at it as, hopefully he's in a position to start nine or 10 of them," Boone said. “Forget the toe. He hasn't come close to playing games for almost two months. As much as I want him in there, we've got to be smart here a little bit, especially in this run.”
The Orioles used catcher Adley Rutschman in the leadoff spot because of his ability to get on base. He was hit by a pitch, walked and scored a run.
New York's Luis Severino (2-4) starts Sunday night against Baltimore's Dean Kremer (10-4). It's the final game of the season series, which is tied 6-all.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister