The day started with standouts from the past gathered in Monument Park, but as usual, the real star on Saturday afternoon was Aaron Judge, who powered the Yankees to their third straight win over the horrid Royals, 8-2, in The Bronx.
It was just another day for the slugger, who continued his record-setting pace with his MLB-high 42nd homer of the season — and 200th of his career.
Only Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard reached the 200-homer milestone faster, getting there in 658 games, compared to Judge’s 671.
The homer Saturday, Judge’s ninth in nine games, was a two-run laser to right field off right-hander Jonathan Heasley, who, like the rest of the Royals, appeared overmatched.
Nestor Cortes, not at his sharpest, limited the Royals to two runs in five innings.
It all followed an underwhelming Old-Timers’ Day at the Stadium, which lacked a game, as well as Mariano Rivera and other Yankees greats.
The Yankees (69-33) clobbered Heasley in the bottom of the first, with the first four batters reaching base — and two of them scoring.
DJ LeMahieu led off with a homer to right-center, his 10th home run of the season.
Judge, who entered with eight homers in his previous eight games, singled to left and Andrew Benintendi walked.
Gleyber Torres then sent a booming double to right-center to score Judge and send Benintendi to third before Josh Donaldson whiffed for the first out.
Matt Carpenter walked to load the bases for Aaron Hicks, a notoriously bad hitter with the bases full, though he had walked in the same situation Friday night in the Yankees’ win.
This time, Hicks reverted to form and grounded into an inning-ending double play on a 3-2 pitch to keep it a two-run game.
Cortes pitched out of a jam in the second. After a leadoff walk to Hunter Dozier and a single up the middle by Vinnie Pasquatino, Michael A. Taylor’s fly ball to right moved Dozier to third.
With runners on the corners, MJ Melendez hit a slow chopper to Cortes, who got Dozier in a rundown between third and home and threw him out.
Cortes followed with a strikeout of Maikel Garcia to end the threat.
After Judge’s home run in the second made it 4-0, Cortes gave up a single to Nicky Lopez and a double to Whit Merrifield to start the third.
He struck out Bobby Witt Jr., but Salvador Perez crushed one to left-center, where it hung up long enough for Hicks to make the catch on the warning track for a sacrifice fly.
Cortes then struck out Dozier swinging.
He wasn’t as fortunate in the fourth — the lefty’s third straight inning with multiple baserunners.
Taylor singled with one out and Melendez walked. A base hit by Garcia drove in Taylor to make it 4-2.
But Lopez followed with a hard grounder to first, and LeMahieu started a nice 3-6-3 double play.
The Yankees added two more runs in the fourth, thanks to more brutal play by the Royals.
First, Garcia nonchalantly tried to catch an Isiah Kiner-Falefa popup with one out and dropped it. Kansas City seemingly was about to be bailed out when Jose Trevino grounded to third for an easy double play, but Merrifield dropped the throw from Lopez.
LeMahieu delivered an RBI single and after Judge walked, a Benintendi sacrifice fly made it 6-2.
The Yankees scored again on another Kansas City miscue in the sixth. Kiner-Falefa stole second and Perez threw the ball into left field on the play, allowing Kiner-Falefa to come home.
Carpenter’s 15th homer of the year — and second since July 17 — gave the Yankees an 8-2 lead in the seventh.
Clarke Schmidt tossed three innings to finish the game and pick up his second save.