Aaron Judge busts fence, shatters Dodgers’ comeback bid with his catch of the year

Yankees' Aaron Judge is interviewed by Ken Rosenthal after his spectacular catch against the Dodgers on June 3, 2023, at Dodger Stadium.
Michael Bennington
Sunday June 4, 2023

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Aaron Judge has had a long and successful career with the New York Yankees. He has shown off his incredible strength by destroying many bullpens. But on Saturday, against the strong Los Angeles Dodgers, the outfielder took his skills to a level that had never been seen before, putting a break on the opposition rally with his incredible defensive display.

Aaron Judge’s catch of the year

The New York Yankees led the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in the eighth inning. J.D. Martinez, the Dodgers’ designated hitter, hit a ball that looked like a double with a teammate at first base, raising anxiety. Martinez reaching second would have put the Dodgers’ tying run in scoring position with zero outs. Baseball Savant calculated that Martinez’s hit would have cleared the fences in 17 of the 30 Major League Baseball parks.

However, it failed to become a home run at Dodger Stadium as Yankees captain Aaron Judge put his best efforts to stand on its way. The Yankees captains’ extraordinary athleticism was on full display as he quickly sprinted backward, soared into the air, and forcefully crashed through the gate of the Dodger Stadium road bullpen, completing a catch that undoubtedly qualifies as a strong candidate for catch of the year.

With Max Muncy positioned on first base and no outs, Aaron Judge’s remarkable sprinting catch in the right field corner, just as J.D. Martinez hit a liner, potentially prevented a run for the Yankees. The American League MVP managed to secure the catch moments before colliding with the partially opened bullpen door.

Reflecting on the pivotal catch, Aaron Judge expressed his initial confidence in having a shot at making the play, albeit acknowledging the uncertainties that come with such moments. Recognizing the proximity to the outfield wall, Aaron Judge acknowledged the close nature of the situation. However, he expressed gratitude for successfully securing the catch, acknowledging his fortunate outcome.

Although Aaron Judge managed to maintain possession of the ball and remained on his feet, his placement of one foot in the bullpen resulted in him technically leaving the field of play. Consequently, despite Aaron Judge’s impressive catch, Muncy was granted permission to advance to second base according to the MLB rules.

No injury to Aaron Judge

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Aaron Judge confirmed that his latest display of fearless fielding did not result in any injuries for him.

The Yankees captain, reassured by his physical well-being, credited the flexible part of the wall for absorbing most of the impact during the play. Aaron Judge expressed gratitude for being able to make the catch despite the potential danger.

Following the umpires’ decision to allow Muncy to advance to second, Yankees manager Aaron Boone engaged in a brief dispute. However, prior to raising his concerns, Boone made a detour to the right field to check on his captain’s well-being. His primary worry was Aaron Judge’s right foot, which had made significant contact with the concrete ledge beneath the swinging door, raising concerns about a potential injury.

Boone recounted the lighthearted interaction with Aaron Judge, stating that as they made their way towards him, the power hitter insisted he was perfectly fine, playfully gesturing to hold them back. Boone chuckled as he shared that his intention for rushing out to the field was simply to express admiration for the exceptional catch the Yankees outfielder had made, conveying his appreciation with a smile.

All praise for Aaron Judge

Boone had no qualms about Aaron Judge’s fearless sprint into the corner to make the challenging catch, acknowledging that it is simply his nature to play with such relentless determination. While the Yankees had believed that the bullpen door was securely closed, they quickly realized that it was not strong enough to confine Aaron Judge’s sheer force and determination.

According to Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, who secured his seventh win, he believed that Aaron Judge’s collision with the bullpen door may have mitigated the impact to some extent. Cole speculated that Aaron Judge’s ability to forcefully push through the door possibly dissipated some of the kinetic energy that would have otherwise been absorbed by crashing directly into the wall. Nevertheless, Cole expressed concern for the well-being of such a talented player who exhibited exceptional determination. He commended Aaron Judge’s courageous approach, acknowledging his immense bravery in such situations.

During the Yankees’ West Coast trip, Aaron Judge delivered his second remarkable defensive play. In a game against the Mariners on Monday night, he demonstrated his exceptional leaping ability by extending every inch of his towering 6-foot-7 frame to snatch a potential home run away from Teoscar Hernandez.

Adding to his impressive performance, Aaron Judge showcased his power at the plate by smashing his 19th home run of the season for the Yankees on Saturday. With an explosive 113-mph line drive, he directed the ball into the compact left-field porch at Chavez Ravine.

Boone expressed his continuous reminder to himself about the importance of appreciating the exceptional talent displayed by Judge. Recognizing Aaron Judge as one of the truly remarkable players in the game, Boone emphasized his ability to contribute in numerous aspects and admired his versatility. Additionally, Boone commended the power hitter for his outstanding character, highlighting him as not only an exceptional athlete but also an exemplary individual.

At the moment of Aaron Judge’s remarkable catch, the Yankees held a 5-3 lead over the Dodgers. Following the catch, pitcher Michael King successfully retired the next two Dodgers batters, consolidating the Yankees’ advantage. Eventually, New York secured their fifth victory in seven games, effectively bouncing back from an initial 8-4 defeat in the opening game of this highly anticipated interleague series.

Aaron Judge on a roll

In the preceding two innings, Aaron Judge demonstrated his power at the plate by launching his 19th home run of the season, thereby strengthening his position as the current leader in the American League. Among all players in the league, only Pete Alonso of the New York Mets has surpassed the Yankees’ talisman in terms of the number of home runs hit this season.

Considering the impressive performances and achievements thus far, all indications suggest that Aaron Judge’s strong performance is likely to enhance his prospects for securing a second consecutive AL MVP award. The MLB chose him as the AL Player of the Month for May.

With 213 plate appearances this season, Aaron Judge boasts an impressive batting line of .291/.404/.674, reminiscent of his record-breaking performance last year. His scorching performance in the previous month earned him the title of AL Player of the Month, hitting .342/.474/.882 with 12 home runs and 25 RBI in 21 games. These exceptional numbers further solidify Judge’s campaign for another AL MVP award.

For those curious, Aaron Judge’s current count of 19 home runs in 49 games sets him on track for approximately 58.5 home runs if he were to play all of the Yankees’ remaining 102 games. Despite a brief stint on the injured list in May, if Aaron Judge maintains his exceptional performance into June, it is conceivable that we may witness another thrilling home run race.

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