Gleyber Torres also drove in three runs as the Yankees won for the sixth time in seven games and improved to 13-14.
In a big league season when hitting is in short supply, 11 of the 18 batters in the starting lineups for the Tigers and Yankees finished the game hitting .198 or below. Former Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 5 and fell to .125, one of the five struggling Detroit starters on a team with a majors-worst batting average of .1995.
Taillon (1-2) allowed one run, three hits and struck out eight over five innings. The Yankees had lost in each of his four previous starts.
Taillon’s previous win came on May 1, 2019, for Pittsburgh in his last outing before having his second Tommy John surgery. The Pirates traded him to the Yankees before this season.
Doubts over whether he would notch another victory in his ledger entered the mind of the 29-year-old, who underwent his first Tommy John surgery in April 2014 and had testicular cancer surgery on May 8, 2017.
“There were times when I wasn’t 100% sure whether I would be back in a big league uniform, let alone be on a team like the Yankees and contribute to wins throughout the year,” Taillon said. “So, it’s definitely meaningful. There’s a lot of people that played part in it to get me back to this point.”
Spencer Turnbull (1-2) gave up four runs and five hits in five innings. The Tigers lost their fourth in a row and dropped to an MLB-worst 8-20.
“It’s almost frustrating,” he said. “I almost did a good job today and then I didn’t. So, it cost us. I finish the game the way I should have, we probably end up winning. So, that one is on me.”
Judge followed Friday night’s two-homer, five-RBI performance by breaking a 1-all tie in the fifth inning with a line drive double off Turnbull to left field that scored DJ LeMahieu.
The Yankees right fielder awarded Taillon the team’s wrestling belt, which is given to the player of the game.
“It was a special moment. Whenever you have a big injury like that, Tommy John, I know it probably creeps in the back of some guys’ mind that, ‘This might be the last time I throw. What’s my career going to look like?’” Judge said. “But he’s a guy that through it all stayed positive and continued to work, work, work, and it’s really showing right now.”
Turnbull lost control in the sixth inning when he hit Aaron Hicks to open the frame and then walked Gary Sánchez and Clint Frazier before reliever José Cisnero replaced him.
Cisnero retired Brett Gardner on a pop out and struck out LeMahieu. Judge fell behind 0-1 in the count and drove the following pitch to right field for a two-run single that made it 4-1. Rougned Odor then walked and Torres’ two-run single chased Cisnero.
Taillon retired seven straight hitters before Jeimer Calendario’ two-out homer in the fourth tied it at 1 – ending the Tigers’ 22-inning scoreless streak. Taillon issued consecutive two-out walks in the fifth but escaped unscathed by striking out Cabrera.
“I’m sure it was emotional for him. Got the belt today,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So, I am really excited for him and happy for him. I think everybody’s been through stuff. J-Mo’s certainly been through his share of trials throughout his career. To get back to this point, contributing to this team, really happy for him today, but it’s another good step forward for him.”
Detroit cut the deficit 6-3 in the seventh inning on Jonathan Schoop’s two-out two-run single.
Niko Goodrum got the Tigers closer with a solo homer in the eighth.
Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in as many chances.
Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd (left knee tendinitis) will miss his next scheduled start Tuesday in Boston, but possibly could be back on the mound next weekend at home against the Minnesota Twins. Boyd was pulled out of Thursday’s start against the Chicago White Sox in the second inning. Manager A.J. Hinch said before Saturday’s game that Boyd is slated to play catch Sunday before the club makes a decision.
Yankees: RHP Darren O’Day was placed on the 10-day injury list due to a strained right rotator cuff. Boone expects the reliever, who has a 3.00 ERA in 10 appearances, to be out for several weeks.
EASY WAY OUT
Taillon got an unlikely assist in the fifth inning with Detroit threatening to take the lead when Goodrum attempted to advance to third on JaCoby Jones’ hard-hit grounder to the left side of the infield. The ball took a hard bounce, however, and struck Goodrum in the leg for the second out of the inning. Jones was credited with a hit.
Yankees RHP Corey Kluber (1-2, 4.15) will face Detroit RHP José Ureña (1-3, 3.77 ERA) to close out the three-game set Sunday. Kluber will attempt to win his 100th career game. He lasted a season-high 6 2/3 innings his last start Tuesday in Baltimore, picking up his first victory of the season.