Aaron Judge hit his 19th home run of the season on Saturday, but it was his stunning running grab at the fence that had everyone talking after the New York Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3.
Judge, the reigning American League MVP, hit a line shot onto the short left-field wall in the sixth inning for the Yankees, who had lost the opener of the high-profile interleague series 8-4 the night before.
The homer travelled barely 360 feet off Dodgers reliever Shelby Miller, but Judge’s 113.7 mph line ball went into the low bleachers before left fielder David Peralta could make a play on it.
Then, in the eighth inning, Judge made a diving grab on J.D. Martinez’s liner into the right-field corner with Max Muncy on first base and nothing out. Judge made the grab just as he ran into the bullpen door, which was partially open when he struck it.
“I thought I had a shot right away, but you never know,” Judge said. “I knew it was going to be close to the wall there, but luckily, I came down with it.”
Judge clung to the ball and remained upright while placing one foot in the bullpen, but Muncy was able to move to second since Judge legally left the field of play.
Judge said that his newest courageous fielding accomplishment did not damage him.
“I’m feeling good,” remarked Judge. “The fence took the most of it. Fortunately, it was that area of the wall with considerable give, which saved me quite a little. It may have been a different tale if it had been a solid wall, but [I] made the play.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he didn’t mind Judge’s rash dash into the corner for a challenging catch because that’s the only way Judge knows how to play. The Yankees were very certain that the bullpen door had been locked shut, but it wasn’t sturdy enough to keep Judge out.
“Honestly, I feel like it probably softened the blow a little bit,” said 7-0 Yankees starter Gerrit Cole. “I think it took a little bit of the kinetic energy out of just slamming up against the wall for him to just blow through it, but it’s still very concerning when such a great player has to go so hard into the wall.” He has a lot of guts.”
After detouring out to right field to check on Judge, Boone briefly contested the umpires’ decision to move Muncy to second. Boone had been concerned about Judge’s right foot, which had landed hard on the concrete ledge underneath the swinging door.
“When we got halfway out there, he was pushing us back, like, ‘I’m fine, fine,’” Boone said. “I simply ran out and said, ‘I just wanted to tell you what a great catch that was.’”
Judge’s grab was the Yankees’ second stunning defensive performance on their West Coast tour. On Monday night in Seattle, Judge jumped to the wall and utilised every inch of his 6-foot-7 body to deny Teoscar Hernández of the Mariners a home run.
“I keep trying to tell myself every now and then to appreciate what we’re watching,” Boone remarked. “He’s just one of the great players we’ll see, and he does it in so many different ways, and he’s the best person.”