Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs in the regular season and another in the AL wild-card game. But it was a home run he prevented Sunday night that helped save the Yankees in their season-extending 1-0 victory over the Indians in Game 3 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium.
With the Yankees facing elimination and the game scoreless in the sixth, Judge leaped at the rightfield wall and used all of his 6-7 frame to rob Francisco Lindor of a two-run home run.
All rise, indeed.
“He’s Bigfoot out there,” Todd Frazier said. “He didn’t even have to jump.”
After the catch, Judge fired the ball back in and smiled broadly. He watched himself make the clutch grab on a replay on the centerfield scoreboard as the crowd chanted “MVP, MVP.”
Roberto Perez was on first base when Lindor, who hit a grand slam off Chad Green on Friday in the Indians’ 9-8, 13-inning Game 2 victory, sent a high drive to right off Masahiro Tanaka.
Judge — who earlier nearly made a great running catch on a ball that was scored a triple — drifted back and scaled the short fence for the second out of the inning.
“That saved the game,” said Aroldis Chapman, who earned a five-out save in the box score.
There was no Jeffrey Maier moment as fans in the stands backed off as Judge made the catch. With the height of the wall, it would have been easy for fans (including noted ballhawk Zach Hample, who was in position to make the catch behind the fence) to reach over and perhaps create a controversial interference moment.
But Judge was not hampered, or Hampled, as he went for and got the ball.
“A great catch,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Ends up saving the game. I’ve said all along about Aaron Judge, he’s a complete player. It’s not just a home run hitter. It’s a guy that runs the bases, that plays very good defense and that drives in a ton of runs and is extremely productive as a hitter.”
Tanaka then retired Jason Kipnis on a fly ball to center to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
Judge hasn’t done much with the bat in the ALDS, so it was good for the Yankees that he contributed with his glove. Judge (0-for-3, walk, three strikeouts) is hitless in 10 at-bats in the series with four walks and eight strikeouts.
“I had to do something,” Judge said. “I wasn’t making any contact at the plate, so you’ve got to make an impact in the game somehow.”
Judge went 2-for-4 with a walk and a two-run home run in the Yankees’ 8-4 wild-card game victory over the Twins on Tuesday.