Aaron Judge belts long homer, clutch hit in 11th to fuel Yankees

PHOENIX — Before the series started at Chase Field, Aaron Boone told Aaron Judge he wanted him to go visit the right-center field pool at some point.

The Yankees captain helped secure a series victory on Wednesday, in his biggest game of the young season.

Judge hit his first home run of the year, an opposite-field blast that landed near the pool to give the Yankees the lead in the fourth inning before adding an RBI double in the 11th for what proved to be the winning run in a 6-5 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Aaron Judge celebrates with Anthony Volpe after hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 6-5, 11 win over the Diamondbacks. P.A.

“We’ll take it, we’ll take it,” the judge said with a smile.

After missing time late in spring training with abdominal pain, Judge had a quiet start to the season, entering Wednesday 3-for-24 with a double and an RBI.

He was far from alone in this regard, however, as Juan Soto, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera had largely fueled the Yankees’ offense during their 5-0 start.

Additionally, while Judge homered on Opening Day last year, in 2022 it took him until Game 6 before going deep; it was of course the first of 62 that year en route to AL MVP.

Aaron Judge hits the game-winning RBI double in the 11th inning of the Yankees' victory over the Diamondbacks.
Aaron Judge hits the game-winning RBI double in the 11th inning of the Yankees’ victory over the Diamondbacks. P.A.

Wednesday was Judge’s best game yet with his first multi-hit effort going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk.

“Early in the season is where you can get caught up in the game as a player by looking at the scoreboard and seeing where your average is,” Judge said. “You see guys out there hitting .600 and you kind of get discouraged, but that’s part of the season. You’re going to have 600 at-bats. You go through difficult periods, they are tiny compared to the whole season. It’s just about staying the course.

Boone called Judge’s home run “one of his patents,” going the other way on a low sinker in the zone to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

“The judge was awesome,” Boone said. “He’s getting there. I felt like he was coming a little bit (Tuesday) night, he just missed a few swings. With Aaron, it’s a matter of time.

Judge then came to the plate in the 11th with a runner on second, one out and the Yankees leading 5-4. He again blasted a double into the opposite field to score Gleyber Torres from second.

“Everyone knows, 9-9 is our captain – we go when he goes,” Alex Verdugo said.

When asked if he thought the Diamondbacks might intentionally walk him with first base open, Judge deflected.

“I feel like I’m hitting .100 right now, so I think it was the right call,” he said. “Didn’t play the way we wanted, but it worked this time.”

New York Post

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