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Orioles get pounded by Aaron Judge, Yankees to start pivotal series

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Orioles get pounded by Aaron Judge, Yankees to start pivotal series

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge had a pair of three-run homers for a career-best six RBIs, Todd Frazier hit a three-run homer that chased Wade Miley with one out in a six-run first inning and the New York Yankees routed the fading Baltimore Orioles 13-5 on Thursday night.

Judge hit an opposite-field drive over New York's bullpen in right-center in the fourth against Mike Wright, then lined a 448-foot drive into the second deck in left in the sixth off Rich Rodriguez. Judge has 43 homers and 96 RBIs, and with 27 homers at Yankee Stadium this year broke the ballpark's season record set by Curtis Granderson in 2012.

Rediscovering his stroke after a prolonged second-half slump, Judge had his second multihomer game in less than a week and is hitting .462 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs against the Orioles this season. When he reached the dugout after the second drive of his fifth multihomer game, Judge was given the silent treatment by Didi Gregorius, who then burst into a wide smile.

Gary Sanchez added his 31st homer to go back-to-back with Judge in the sixth, and New York rolled to a 13-2 lead and its ninth victory in 12 games. Masahiro Tanaka (12-11) won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing two solo homers in seven innings while striking out eight.

Starting a stretch that has them home for 14 of their final 17 games, the Yankees remained three games behind AL East-leading Boston.

New York began the night three games in front of Minnesota for the top wild card while Baltimore started 4 1/2 games behind the Twins with four other teams to overcome. The Orioles were one game behind Minnesota on Sept. 6, then lost six in a row.

Jonathan Schoop hit his 32nd homer in the fourth and Trey Mancini his 24th in the sixth, a drive to the second deck in right. Tanaka has given up 32 homers, 10 more than his previous big league high.

Miley (8-13) lasted 19 pitches as six of seven batters who faced him reached with hits. It was the shortest of his 194 big league starts.

New York burst ahead when Jacoby Ellsbury singled on Miley's third pitch and Judge on his fourth, and Sanchez doubled on his sixth.

Matt Holliday hit an RBI grounder with a 3-1 count, Chase Headley had a run-scoring single on the next pitch and Gregorius singled on Miley's second offering. Frazier sent a 3-1 fastball into Monument Park beyond center field for his 25th homer, his second three-run drive in a four-game span.

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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