You’ve heard the expression, “That’s why he gets paid the big bucks.” The Yankees paid Aaron Judge $360 million dollars to do things like he did last night.
Judge slammed three home runs and set a franchise record as he keyed a 7-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. The Yankee slugger was 4 for 4 with three home runs and a double to go along with 14 total bases and six runs batted in. “He just absolutely squared some balls tonight,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said.
Coming into the season, Judge had not had a three home run game in his career but his first came on August 23rd against Washington. Last night’s barrage made him the first player in Yankee history to have a pair of 3-home run games in the same season. Taking into account the great home run hitters throughout Yankee history, becoming the first to have a second three home run game in the same season is quite a feat.
Luke Weaver and Jhony Brito combined to give up one run on five hits but it was Judge who was the show.
After a first inning double, Judge reached the seats for the first time in the bottom of the third. With two on and two out, Judge didn’t waste any time as he drove the first pitch from Arizona losing pitcher Brandon Pfaadt into the Yankee bullpen for a three run shot and a 3-0 lead.
The 31-year old homered in alternate innings. His second one came in the fifth, a two run shot off of Pfaadt, that landed in the first row of the extreme right center field stands as the Yankees took a 6-0 lead.
Judge’s third home run came off Diamondbacks reliever Slade Cecconi in the seventh. After Estevan Florial was thrown out trying for third on a bloop double, Judge stepped in and slammed a 2-0 pitch from Cecconi into the second deck in right field (territory usually reserved for left hand power hitters) for his third long ball of the night and his sixth run batted in.
After Judge took the high fives in the dugout for a third time, the 39,143 on hand implored him to take a curtain call, which he obliged with a tip of the cap. “It was great,” Judge said. “Any time Yankees fans want to show some love and show some appreciation, I love it. It was a pretty cool moment right there.”
Florial was under some pressure in the bottom of the eighth because he came up with two out and the bases loaded with Judge was looming on deck. Like his first three home run game in August, Judge was left on deck in the bottom of the eighth when Florial flied out to right field to deny him another chance to become the second Yankee (Lou Gehrig) to hit four home runs in a single game.
It was Judge’s 33rd multi home run game which is fifth in franchise history and his 14 total bases was tied for third all time. Only Gehrig (16) and Tony Lazzeri (15) had more in a single game.
“You’re watching a great player, that’s greatness,” Boone said. “Special player that lost some time this year, he’s just different than everyone else.”
Weaver qualified for the win with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, while Brito gave up only a solo home run to Arizona’s Christian Walker in the ninth but pitched the final 3 2/3 innings to pick up a save.
Judge missed significant time this season so you wonder what kind of numbers he could’ve put up for a second straight season. Judge has played 100 games and has 35 home runs in 348 at bats. He now has 255 career home runs and if he reaches 40 this season, he’ll tie Derek Jeter for 9th place on the Yankees’ all time list.
Judge is putting his name up among the greatest Yankees of all time and he’s compiling achievements that have him on the early stages of a journey to Cooperstown. “It’s incredible,” Judge said. “You see the list of players that have come through here, the retired numbers out there.”