KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer Thursday and hit another three-run homer Friday night.

On Saturday night, the Yankees slugger was on the bench at windy Kauffman Stadium.

Maybe you think it’s too early in the year for such rests – and why interrupt a guy on a hot streak?

Either way, this is a team on a winning streak and manager Aaron Boone had targeted that break for Judge as early as the Yankees’ last road trip, as part of the long game planning with some key veterans.

In his last seven games, Judge has hit five home runs, but Boone was specifically watching Monday, the start of a three-game series in Toronto.

On the synthetic turf of the Rogers Center, which has never been kind to Judge.

Against the Blue Jays, who should be the Yankees’ toughest challenger in the AL East.

“It’s always hard to get him out of the lineup,” Boone said Saturday afternoon.

But with a day game on Sunday after a night game, and Judge having played 12 straight games (with two days off the team during that time), “I definitely want him to be available for those three games” at Toronto.

Abundant Caution

After scoring in double digits in four of their previous five games, single runs in the second, third and fourth innings – none were brought home by a hit – were enough for the Yanks to win their eighth game. consecutive.

That’s because Gerrit Cole was on his game again, with three relievers closing out a 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, April 30, 2022 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

But with the judge safely on the bench, Joey Gallo was taken out in the fifth inning on Saturday with a left groin tightness.

Gallo says he’s “not worried at all” about it. “I wanted to keep playing today, but the smart decision was not to make it worse.”

Boone will delay any judgment on Gallo’s status until Sunday morning, but Gallo is at least a strong candidate to rest from Sunday’s lineup.

Ace raised

Meanwhile, Cole has thrown 12.2 scoreless innings – all with Jose Trevino behind the plate – in his last two starts after hitting a 6.35 ERA in his first three starts.

And once again, the cutter was a big throw for Cole.

Trevino asked for the pitch to appear to Salvador Perez after Cole got into a two-out “self-inflicted jam” by walking Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi eight pitches to charge the bases.

” That’s what he does. He’s an ace for a reason,” Trevino said. “He makes throws when he needs to.”

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After the game, Boone reaffirmed that Cole won’t necessarily make those throws at Trevino; Kyle Higashioka, Cole’s near-exclusive receiver for the past two seasons, is time-shared in that position.

“I’m neither more nor less comfortable with either guy,” Boone said. “I’m comfortable with both.”

Cole will miss the Blue Jays series as he is scheduled to draw the Texas Rangers with an extra day off Friday at the stadium.

But those Yankees are rolling now, and the club’s “ability to play close games, race” against the opposition and “come from behind” has been on the scene lately.

In other words, the Yankees have found plenty of ways to win over the past week. The program certainly helped.

Maybe resting Judge on Saturday — and getting Gallo back, who is now finding his punching rhythm — will pay off in Toronto starting Monday night.

Pete Caldera is the author of Yankees beats for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, transactions and more, please sign up today and download our app.

E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @pcaldera