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Gio Urshela rates high praise from Aaron Judge

Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela beats the tag

Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela beats the tag from Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen as he scores in the fifth inning on a wild pitch from Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

What will be Gio Urshela’s next feat?

First the glove, then the bat, now his legs have the Yankees all but genuflecting over a player who went from being a reserve to revered this season.

There is continuing debate about where the Yankees would be without the contributions of several players, but on Sunday, Aaron Judge anointed Urshela.

“We wouldn’t be in first place right now if we didn’t have Gio,’’ Judge said after the third baseman drove in two runs and scored a third with a deft slide in a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Facing Blue Jays starter (and former Patchogue-Medford High School star) Marcus Stroman, Urshela singled home two runs with a grounder through the hole at shortstop in the second inning.

In the fifth, he reached on an infield hit to deep short and went to second when Austin Romine walked. He reached third on a forceout and, with two outs and Judge at the plate, Stroman threw a wild pitch to the right of catcher Danny Jansen.

The ball ricocheted back to Jansen, who applied the tag to Urshela’s upper body. Plate umpire Ryan Blakney called Urshela out, but it was overturned when the replay showed Urshela’s left foot had reached the plate well before the tag.

“I was trying to sneak it [past] the glove because the ball bounced quickly into the glove, trying to make a good slide,’’ Urshela said. “When I was in the middle of the run, I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something to make it safe.’ ’’

Judge said of Urshela, “He kind of snuck that left foot in there. I had a good front-row seat for it. When I saw him slide in, I kind of thought he had that foot in. They challenged that play and it won us a ballgame right there.’’

Jansen second-guessed himself. “It kicked right back to me,’’ he said. “I had plenty of time. Realizing I had time, I’m not going to flip [it to] Marcus, just in case there’s something at the plate, I’m not going to let him get hurt. I should have just thrown my body right on the plate like I’m supposed to do.

“He made a nice slide. Kind of freaked me out. Caught me off guard. Should have just put my whole body on the plate. I had every right to just jump on the plate.”

Stroman credited Urshela, saying, “Just a crazy good slide by Gio Urshela. It was just one of those slides where he kind of just avoided him and slid his left leg in there. Just one of those plays that in the moment it’s hard.”

It was just another dividend provided by Urshela, who had two hits and is batting .362 (21-for-58) with runners in scoring position. He is hitting .302 in 74 games as the main replacement for injured third baseman Miguel Andujar.

“He’s something special, you know, defensively and then offensively,’’ Judge said. “Just get him up there with some guys on base, he’s going to get the job done.’’

In more ways than one.

With David Lennon

New York Sports