Aaron Judge enters exclusive four-member Yankees club after his best night of 2024 season

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge signals to dugout after hitting a home run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Minneapolis.

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In a remarkable display of offensive prowess, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge delivered a historic performance at Target Field on Wednesday against the Twins. The towering outfielder amassed four extra-base hits, including three doubles and a colossal 467-foot home run in the first inning, much to the delight of Yankees fans who have been eagerly awaiting his resurgence at the plate.

Aaron Judge’s trio of doubles, each finding the center-field wall, served as a testament to his hitting prowess and a reassuring sign for those who have been longing to see him connecting with pitches consistently. The first-inning homer, however, was a true demonstration of Aaron Judge’s immense power when he squares up a pitch perfectly.

This extraordinary feat marked Aaron Judge’s first career outing with three doubles, tying a Yankees single-game franchise record. According to Stathead’s database, the slugger’s history-matching performance is the 28th such occurrence in Yankees history, with the most recent one coming from Aaron Judge himself last September against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This achievement places him in elite company, joining Yankees legends Lou Gehrig (five), Joe DiMaggio (five), and Babe Ruth (two) as the only players to have multiple four-extra-base-hit games.

While Aaron Judge has been reluctant to admit it, his recent at-bats suggest that he is beginning to emerge from his early-season slump. Wednesday’s incredible performance provided the latest evidence that the Yankees captain is finding his stride and ready to lead the team’s offensive charge.

Despite concerns surrounding Aaron Judge’s quiet start to the season, Yankees manager Aaron Boone remained steadfast in his belief that the slugger would eventually make opposing teams pay “big-time.” Boone’s prophecy has come to fruition, with Aaron Judge’s recent performances, particularly his mammoth home run off Twins right-hander Pablo Lopez, serving as a testament to his offensive prowess.

Aaron Judge’s resurgence has been evident in his impressive numbers over the past 12 games, boasting a .317/.451/.707 slash line since the beginning of May. His biggest game of the season thus far came on Wednesday, as he spearheaded the Yankees’ 13-hit onslaught.

From the very first pitch he saw, Aaron Judge made his presence known. In the first inning, Lopez delivered a 95 mph fastball down the middle, and the slugger capitalized on the mistake, launching the ball several rows deep into the third deck in left field.

Boone praised Aaron Judge’s exceptional performance, quipping that the slugger might have found the park a bit too small for his liking. The Yankees manager acknowledged the Yankees captain’s stature and his ability to overcome any initial challenges, solidifying his status as one of the game’s most formidable hitters.

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits a home run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Minneapolis.
AP

Aaron Judge’s juggernut rolls over Twins at Target Field

Aaron Judge’s dominant performance propelled the Yankees to a 4-0 victory over the Twins at Target Field. The slugger showcased his immense power, launching his 11th home run of the season, a jaw-dropping 467-foot moonshot that ranked as the third-longest in the majors this year. His offensive onslaught also included three doubles and a walk, further cementing his impact on the game.

Over his last 17 games, Aaron Judge has been on a torrid pace, batting .383 (23-for-60) with a staggering 1.350 OPS and seven home runs. This impressive stretch has seen his average skyrocket from .178 to .255, while his OPS has soared from .674 to .926.

Reflecting on Aaron Judge’s prodigious blast, opposing pitcher Marcus Stroman recalled a similar moment from 2017 when he hit his longest career home run of 496 feet off him. Stroman acknowledged the unpleasant experience but praised his captain’s extraordinary talent and current focus, describing him as a special player whose performance significantly shifted the game’s momentum.

“He’s hit that ball off me before,” said Stroman. “It’s not a good feeling. But he’s special, man, and he’s locked in right now. … Huge momentum shifter.”

The Yankees extended their lead to 2-0 in the second inning courtesy of Anthony Volpe‘s sacrifice fly. Aaron Judge stepped up again in the third, ripping a double off the right-center field wall. Subsequent singles by Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton, both of whom recorded multi-hit games, pushed the Yankees’ advantage to 3-0.

Aaron Judge’s offensive showcase continued in the seventh inning, following a double off the right-field wall by teammate Juan Soto. He capitalized on the opportunity, smoking a laser over the head of center fielder Willi Castro for an RBI double, extending the Yankees’ lead to 4-0. This additional run support proved more than sufficient for starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who delivered what manager Aaron Boone described as a “gritty” performance. Stroman’s outing was bookended by strong innings, with the first and sixth frames being his only clean ones.

Aaron Judge’s contributions were the driving force behind the Yankees’ victory, as he continued to build upon his impressive hot streak. When asked about the key to his success, the Yankees captain insisted that it all boiled down to one simple factor: making consistent contact with the ball. He emphasized that his performance throughout the year had been steady, with the only notable difference being his improved contact rate.

Reflecting on his hitting, Aaron Judge remarked that when you make solid contact and are in sync with your timing, you barely feel the impact of the bat connecting with the ball. He expressed satisfaction with scoring an early run, especially against a formidable pitcher like Pablo Lopez, as it sets the tone for a competitive game. Aaron Judge noted that putting runs on the board early allowed Stroman to settle into a comfortable rhythm on the mound.

As Judge continues to showcase his offensive prowess, the Yankees can rely on his consistent production to lead the charge in their pursuit of success this season.

Twins’ pitcher learns a lesson

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Aaron Judge’s monster night began with a thunderous 467-foot home run off Pablo López’s 95-mph first-inning fastball, launching the ball into the third row of the third deck in left field. The mammoth blast, one of the 10 longest in Target Field history, set the stage for the Yankees‘ dominant 4-0 victory over the Twins and showcased the 2022 AL MVP’s incredible power.

López, visibly impressed by Aaron Judge’s feat, compared the home run to something one might witness in a Home Run Derby. He recounted turning around and seeing the ball soaring through the air, gesturing with his thumb and forefinger to illustrate its impressive trajectory.

“It looked like a Home Run Derby homer to me,” López said afterward. “I just turned around and saw the thing looked like … ” His words trailed off as he made a tiny circle with his thumb and forefinger. I learned a lesson. “When you’re pitching to someone that tall, [pitching] high means higher than high.”

Aaron Judge’s offensive onslaught continued throughout the game, as he matched the Twins’ entire hit total with four rockets that traveled a combined 1,588 feet, averaging an astounding 397 feet per swing. Each of his last three hits sailed over the head of center fielder Willi Castro, adding insult to injury on what was already a rough night for the Twins’ outfielder.

With his four extra-base hits, Aaron Judge became only the fifth player to achieve such a feat at Target Field, joining an elite group that, somewhat ironically, includes more Yankees (Judge and Brian Roberts in 2014) than Twins (Nelson Cruz in 2019). The slugger’s performance also propelled him into a tie for the AL lead in doubles with 13.

The Yankees registered theith ninth win in their last 11 games. It also resulted in their 11th series victory out of 14 they had so far.

“We’re getting there, we’re getting there,” Aaron Judge said. “Not there yet. Hopefully we get there when we’re talking in November.”

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