Aaron Judge’s 2023 season continues to be one containing the lament of what might have been.
The reigning American League MVP became the first Yankee in history to record multiple three-homer games in a season in a 7-1 victory over the Diamondbacks on Friday night at the Stadium.
“Greatness doing special things,” Aaron Boone said.
The three opposite-field homers gave Judge, who missed 52 games this season while he was on the injured list, 35 homers in 100 games. The Yankees captain, who doubled in his first at-bat Friday night before going on his homer binge, hit an American League-record 62 home runs a season ago.
“It’s incredible,” Judge said of accomplishing the franchise first of two three-homer games in a single season. “You see the list of players that have come through here, the retired numbers out there [in Monument Park]. But I’m just trying to do my job. Got in some good counts, guys in front of me were getting on base. I’m just happy to come away with the win.”
Judge, whose first three-homer game of his career came Aug. 23 against the Nationals, gave the Yankees (78-76) a 3-0 lead with homer No. 1, a three-run blast off Arizona righthander Brandon Pfaadt in the third inning that traveled 420 feet and hit the back of the Yankees' bullpen in right-center. Judge again took Pfaadt deep in the fifth, hitting a two-run homer to right-center to highlight a three-run inning that made it 6-0.
After descending into the home dugout following blast No. 3, an opposite-field laser into the second deck in right off righthander Slade Cecconi in the seventh, Judge acquiesced to the desire of the crowd of 39,143 for a curtain call.
“It was great,” he said. “Any time Yankees fans want to show some love and show some appreciation, I love it. It was a pretty cool moment right there.”
Judge’s 14 total bases Friday night matched the third-most by a Yankee in a single game in franchise history, trailing Lou Gehrig (16 total bases June 3, 1932, at the Philadelphia A’s) and Tony Lazzeri (15 total bases May 24, 1936, also at the Philadelphia A’s).
His 33 career multi-homer games are the fifth-most in franchise history behind Babe Ruth (68), Mickey Mantle (46), Gehrig (43) and Joe DiMaggio (35).
So how does Judge look at his season?
“Lot of missed time, a lot of missed opportunities,” he said. “You can look at the numbers, but I look more at the games I missed and the opportunities I missed.”
When it comes to pitches in or around the strike zone, Judge hasn’t missed many of late.
He made it 35 of 75 plate appearances in which he has reached base during his last 17 games. He has reached base multiple times in 52 games this season, including 40 of his last 71 games. Despite missing all that time on the injured list, he is tied for third in the AL in homers and sixth in walks (80).
“You’re just watching a great player,” Boone said. “That’s greatness. Special player that lost some time this year, [but] he’s just different than everyone else.”
The Yankees received a terrific outing from journeyman righthander Luke Weaver, making his second start for the club after being called up from the minors. Weaver allowed four hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings in which he struck out three and did not walk a batter. Rookie righthander Jhony Brito came on in the sixth and was untouched until Christian Walker homered to left with one out in the ninth to make it 7-1. The Yankees outhit the Diamondbacks12-5.