In a prime example of baseball’s unpredictability, the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge dazzled fans on both sides of the plate during Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. In the course of a few innings, Judge went from saving his team from a potential run to contributing two runs of his own.
The excitement started in the top of the third inning, when Angels slugger Shohei Ohtani came to the plate with one out and a runner on first base. Ohtani, known for his powerful hitting, launched a ball towards the right field fence that looked like it was going to clear the wall and put the Angels up 2-0.
Enter Judge, the six-foot-seven-inch outfielder with a knack for making highlight-reel catches. Judge leaped at the wall, extended his glove, and somehow managed to snatch the ball out of the air just before it cleared the fence. The Yankee Stadium crowd erupted as Judge landed back on his feet, ball secured in his glove.
“It’s kind of a helpless feeling,” Ohtani said through a translator after the game. “I put a good swing on it and I thought it was gone, but he’s a great outfielder and he made a great play.”
Judge’s fielder’s choice had an immediate impact, as the next batter lined out to left field to end the inning. The Yankees then took advantage of the momentum shift in the bottom of the third, with Judge leading off with a single up the middle. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Brett Gardner hit a two-run single to put the Yankees up 2-0.
But Judge wasn’t done yet. In the bottom of the fifth, he stepped to the plate with one out and a runner on first base. Judge took a 2-2 fastball from Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney and smashed it into the right field seats for a two-run homer, extending the Yankees’ lead to 4-0.
The home run was Judge’s seventh of the season and continued his hot streak at the plate – he’s now batting .308 with a .950 OPS.
“I’m just trying to simplify things,” Judge said after the game. “Not think too much at the plate, trust in my abilities and my swing, and just get good pitches to hit. And lately, they’ve been falling for me.”
For the Angels, the loss was a tough one – they managed just one run on four hits against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery and the New York bullpen. But for everyone else, the game was a reminder of why baseball can be so exciting – sometimes, one player can make all the difference. And for the Yankees, that player on this night was Aaron Judge.