Yankees’ Aaron Judge turns ugly loss into close defeat

What was mostly a failed night for the Yankees almost became ridiculous because of Aaron Judge.

The end result was still a 9-7 loss to the Mets on Tuesday night at Citi Field, but Judge managed to score a late game by crushing a grand slam in the eighth inning for his 29th homer in the 81st game of the year.

“Every time he steps in that box, you know something good is going to happen,” said Juan Soto, who hit his 19th homer in the fifth inning to create a 6-1 deficit. “He’s an incredible player. That’s why I try to be on base every time he hits because I know something is going to happen.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge #99 reacts to the dugout as he rounds the bases on his grand slam during the 8th inning.
Aaron Judge celebrates as he circles the bases after hitting a grand slam during the Yankees’ 9-7 Subway Series loss to the Mets. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Judge said his former teammate Harrison Bader scared him by looking like he was going to find the ball in right-center field, but he continued to head to the bullpen for a 390 shot feet on Reed Garrett.

Judge also added an RBI double, a walk and a hit by pitch, reaching base four times for the league-leading ninth time this season.

Halfway through the season, even after a quiet first month, Judge is hitting .304 with a 1.128 OPS and is on pace for 58 homers.

“It’s crazy. It’s absolutely insane,” Pete Alonso said before the match. “Obviously he’s known for his power, but what’s most impressive is his discipline at the plate and his ability to hit line drives consistently. I think that’s one of the most underrated things about him. He is obviously one of the best in the world. But I think his ability to control the strike zone is overlooked. He is a line drive hitter with tremendous strength. This is why he was not only able to hit a number of home runs, but also have a good average.

The arrival of JD Davis does not mean the end of Ben Rice against left-handed pitchers.

While the Yankees traded for the right-handed Davis to hit against lefties and play first base, manager Aaron Boone said it would not be a right-handed platoon between Davis and the left-handed Rice.

Ben Rice singles in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter in the Yankees' loss.
Ben Rice singles in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter in the Yankees’ loss. Getty Images

“Because I liked Rice’s bats,” Boone said Tuesday before the Yankees fell to the Mets. “I thought he held his own against lefties here. It’s a tough draw for him this week, but I don’t want to play him against every lefty in his first two weeks in the big leagues. But I’ve been really pleased with his at-bats.”

Rice, recalled last week after veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo was placed on injured reserve with a broken arm, came into bat Tuesday with a 5-for-17 average (.294) and an OPS of .675.

He entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and singled against right-hander Adam Ottavino.

Soto fouled a fly ball off the top of his left foot in the third inning and was limping in pain before being tended to by Boone and a trainer.

But he stayed in the game and said it relaxed throughout the night.

The Yankees went through a stretch earlier this season where they barely faced left-handed starters before facing an offense of late.

They entered Tuesday hitting .235 with a .699 OPS against lefties, which was close to league average.

“One area where we need to do a little better, but we think we will,” Boone said. “I feel like it’s just a moment where we had a little bit of a tough week, facing some good left-handed pitchers. I feel like this shouldn’t be the trend or norm going forward.

— Additional reporting by Mark W. Sanchez

New York Post

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