Judge hit a tying home run in the sixth inning , the 40th of his big league career, just a year and a day after his debut.
After Aaron Hicks hit a go-ahead drive in the eighth , Sanchez hit the 40th of his career , too, and the Yankees rallied from a two-run deficit to beat the Mets 4-2 on Monday night in the first of four Subway Series matchups this week.
“It’s awesome to watch and be a part of,” said Hicks, who also hit his 40th career home run.
Normally 40-40 is baseball parlance for reaching those figures in home runs and steals. The Baby Bombers are defined by power: Judge reached the mark in his 140th game and Sanchez in his 139th, the third-fastest behind Mark McGwire (110) and Rudy York (129).
“To be able to do that with him feels good,” Sanchez said through a translator.
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Hicks hit No. 40 in his 435th major league game.
Sanchez had only four homers through May, slowed by an early-season strained biceps, but has matched his total of 20 in his rookie season last year — all in a 43-game burst from Aug. 10 to Sept. 27.
“He’s going to be one of the greatest catchers in this game. We’re just seeing the beginning of it,” Judge said.
Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes homered in the third off Luis Cessa to give the Mets a 2-0 lead at Yankee Stadium. Cespedes’ drive to right-center ticked off the glove of a leaping Judge, hit the top of the wall and bounced over.
Sanchez started the Yankees’ comeback with a 273-foot sacrifice fly in the fourth against starter Rafael Montero. Hicks made a nice feet-first slide to the inside of the plate to evade catcher Rene Rivera on Cespedes’ throw from left, which was up the third-base line.
Judge hit his AL-leading 36th home run — just his sixth since the All-Star break. The opposite-field shot was dropped in the right-center field bleachers by a fan wearing a Judge jersey.
“He’s made some adjustments and feels a little bit more comfortable in the box,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s better balance. It’s being on time. There’s a lot of things that go on, especially with a guy that’s 6-7.”
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Hicks, who returned last week from an oblique injury, homered against Hansel Robles (7-4) leading off the eighth, his career-best 12th of the season. Sanchez connected for an opposite-field drive with two outs against Erik Goeddel. Both went 401 feet.
“They’re dangerous in this park, and you’re not satisfied that two runs is going to hold up in Yankee Stadium,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Cessa was recalled from Triple-A to start because Masahiro Tanaka is sidelined with right shoulder inflammation. The Mets acquired Cespedes from Detroit two years ago in a trade that sent Cessa to the Tigers, who later dealt him to the Yankees.
Cessa allowed five hits in 4 1/3 innings and reached 99 mph with his fastball. He had discomfort in the rhomboid muscle behind his pitching shoulder that worsened in the fifth inning , and is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday.
“I think it’s something minor,” Cessa said through a translator.
Chad Green followed with 2 2/3 hitless innings , David Robertson (6-2) struck out three in a hitless eighth and Dellin Betances finished the six-hitter for his seventh save. He threw a called third strike past Amed Rosario to end the game with Dominic Smith on second. Rosario was playing his 13th major league game and Smith his fourth.
Aroldis Chapman, who took the loss after blowing a ninth-inning lead against Boston on Sunday night, was not available after throwing 46 pitches over the previous three days.
With their ninth win in 13 games against the Mets, the Yankees closed within 4 1/2 games of the AL East-leading Red Sox.
Two injury-ravaged rotations led to a matchup of starting pitchers who combined for a 1-11 record: 0-3 for Cessa and 1-8 for Montero. Still, both teams and the crowd felt extra energy.
“This is as close to the playoffs as it gets,” Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said. “We’re pretty fired up for it.”