By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge and Todd Frazier kept hitting three-run homers and getting the thumbs-down from their New York Yankees teammates.
Adopting the negative salute Mets fan flashed Frazier at Citi Field this week, the Yankees kept inverting their digits to celebrate each offensive breakout during a 13-5 rout of the fading Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.
“Seeing that fan that did that, it was pretty comical, so I thought it’d be a good thing for Fraz to do, and it kind of caught on with the whole team,” Judge said after hitting a pair of three-run homers for a career-best six RBIs.
Frazier was greeted by the thumbs-down from New York’s entire dugout after his three-run homer that chased Wade Miley with one out in a six-run first inning . He then gave the bench the same signal after he doubled in the third.
“It’s funny. I didn’t even know we were doing it until I saw it happening in the first inning, ” Didi Gregorius said.
The thumbs-down fan was sitting in the second row behind the visitor’s dugout at Citi Field on Monday when a television camera caught him making the gesture after Frazier’s three-run homer against Tampa Bay. NJ Advance Media identified the fan as Gary Dunaier, a Queens resident who owns Mets season tickets.
In an era when the focus is on going digital, Frazier embraced the expression Wednesday and teammates a day later.
“Usually we point at each other,” Gary Sanchez, who added his 31st homer to go back-to-back with Judge in the sixth, said through a translator. “It’s just a way to have fun.”
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 off Rich Rodriguez for his fifth multihomer game. 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 is hitting .472 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs against the Orioles this season.
“He owns the team, kind of,” Gregorius said.
Judge’s homers are the most by a Yankees player against an opponent in a season since 1961, when Roger Maris hit 13 against the Chicago White Sox and Mickey Mantle had 11 versus the Washington Senators.
“He’s been getting closer and closer to where he was in the first half, and maybe he’s there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
New York rolled to a 13-2 lead and its ninth victory in 12 games, improving to 14 games over .500, one shy of its season high in June.
Masahiro Tanaka (12-11) won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing solo homers to Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini while striking out eight in seven innings. Tanaka has given up 32 homers, 10 more than his previous big league high.
Starting a stretch that has them home for 14 of their final 17 games, the Yankees remained three games behind AL East-leading Boston and three games ahead of Minnesota for the top AL wild card. At 41-27, they clinched their 26th straight home winning record.
Baltimore lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell 5 1/2 games behind the Twins.
“You can’t go out there and lay an egg like that,” said Miley (8-13), who lasted 19 pitches as six of seven batters reached with hits in the shortest of his 194 big league starts.
Sanchez had an RBI double , Matt Holliday a run-scoring grounder and Chase Headley an RBI single before Frazier’s 25th homer, a drive into Monument Park beyond center field.
Yankee Stadium’s sound system failed before New York took the field, and the Yankees opened a 6-0 before audio was restored at the end of the top of the second.
“After we got the six runs, I wanted to tell them, don’t play anything. Keep it silent. It’s kind of working for us,” Judge said.
A pregame video tribute to the late Gene Michael was postponed to Friday. His No. 17 was stenciled on the field in foul territory on the first- and third-base sides.
SWING AND A MISS
Yankees pitchers struck out 10 to raise their season total to a club-record 1,401, topping the previous mark of 1,393 set last year.
Chance Sisco, who made his debut Sept. 2, pinch hit for the Orioles in the seventh and doubled for his first big league hit. Manny Machado pocketed the ball and threw a clean one into the stands as a prank. Sisco then homered leading off the ninth . “Just to be around the guys and just have fun, that’s what the game is about,” Sisco said.
Tanaka has 150 big league wins in the U.S. and Japan, 99 for Rakuten and 51 for the Yankees. … Sanchez’s 31 homers topped Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra for the most in a season by a Yankee with at least half his games at catcher.
Yankees: Greg Bird, after missing three games with back spasms, pinch hit in the seventh, flied out and then went to first. Girardi said Bird will start Friday. … OF Aaron Hicks, who hasn’t played since Sept. 2 because of a left oblique strain, has strep throat and is staying away from the clubhouse.
RHP Luis Severino (12-6) is slated to start Friday for the Yankees and RHP Gabriel Ynoa (1-1) for the Orioles. Severino is 7-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)