HOUSTON (AP) — Jasson Domínguez sparked the New York Yankees with his very first swing in the majors.
Domínguez became the youngest Yankees player to homer in his first career at-bat and Aaron Judge reached 250 home runs faster than any other major leaguer as New York slugged its way to a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
DJ LeMahieu sent Justin Verlander’s second pitch into the right-field seats for a leadoff shot, and there were two outs in the first inning when Verlander walked Giancarlo Stanton.
Then, on the second pitch he saw and his first swing in the majors, Domínguez, who has drawn comparisons to Bo Jackson and Mike Trout, connected off Verlander (10-7) to make it 3-0.
"That’s pretty impressive,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “That’s a way to announce your presence with authority.”
At just 20 years, 206 days old, the highly touted Domínguez became the youngest Yankees player to homer in his first MLB game. He was the first Yankees hitter to go deep in his initial big league at-bat since Judge on Aug. 13, 2016.
After Domínguez swatted his opposite-field home run to the short porch in left off a three-time Cy Young Award winner twice his age, TV cameras panned to his family, who screamed and jumped around after watching the ball leave the yard.
“I knew it was going to be a lot of different feelings finally stepping on the field,” Domínguez said in Spanish through a translator. “I mentioned my dream coming true right in front of me and I was able to connect there for that hit and it ended up being a homer. So, my mind is flying away."
Austin Wells, also making his MLB debut Friday night, singled to start the second, but the Yankees couldn’t get anything else going in that inning.
“That was awesome,” Wells said. “I think it’s good to check the box in the first AB and then after that I was just out there having fun."
Judge said the additions of Domínguez and Wells added a jolt of excitement to the team, and the slugger could feel a different energy on the bus as the Yankees traveled to the stadium Friday.
“We were jumping up and down like little kids when Domínguez hit that two-run homer,” Judge said. “And he was just impressive. Excited for him.”
José Abreu hit a solo homer in the second to get the Astros within two. But the Yankees padded the lead when Stanton hit a two-run homer in the third.
Kyle Tucker hit an RBI double that cut it to 5-2 in the bottom of the inning.
Judge launched a solo shot off Verlander in the fifth, becoming the fastest player in major league history to 250 home runs. The 2022 AL MVP reached the milestone in his 810th career game, besting Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard, who did it in 2010 in his 855th game.
Leading off the fifth, Judge sent the first pitch to the train tracks above the left-field stands to extend New York’s lead to 6-2. Judge smiled broadly as he rounded the bases and was greeted at the dugout with high-fives from many of his teammates.
Judge said milestones like that don't mean much to him, but he appreciated the company he's in. The other players in the top five are Ralph Kiner (871 games), Harmon Killebrew (905) and Albert Pujols (933).
“When you see the guys that are on the list, especially Ryan Howard, who is one of the greatest power hitters and if not left-handed hitters in the game, it’s pretty cool to be on that list,” he said.
It was the 30th homer of the season for Judge, who missed nearly two months with a toe injury. He hit 62 last year, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 set in 1961.
Verlander allowed eight hits and six runs in six innings. The four homers he served up were a season high, after he hadn’t allowed more than two in a game this year.
“Their young guys were swinging from the time they left the dugout and he just got a couple of balls up,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Sometimes it's like that... sometimes there's no explanation.”
New York starter Carlos Rodon (2-4) yielded three hits and two runs in five innings.
Domínguez is expected to be the team’s everyday center fielder after Harrison Bader was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds. The prized prospect provided an immediate boost to the last-place Yankees, who have shifted their focus toward the future for the last month of this disappointing season.
Domínguez became the youngest player to appear in a game for the Yankees since 19-year-old pitcher José Rijo in July 1984 — and the youngest position player since 20-year-old outfielder Stan Javier in April 1984.
Yankees: 2B Gleyber Torres was scratched from the lineup about 90 minutes before the game with lower back tightness.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve exited after one inning with a bruised left leg. Baker said Altuve fouled a ball off his shin in his first at-bat and that he'd hit it on the same spot several times this week. Baker said the team should know more about Altuve's condition Saturday. … INF Grae Kessinger was reinstated from the 10-day injured list after missing 12 games due to health and safety protocols.
New York RHP Luis Severino (4-8, 6.64 ERA) opposes RHP Hunter Brown (10-9, 4.47) when the series continues Saturday night.