Aaron Judge’s Toronto power display prompts Gerrit Cole to question Dodgers

Yankees Aaron Judge in action in his two-homer game against the game against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Sept. 27, 2023.

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A day after his selection as the MLb player of the week, Aaron Judge delivered an outstanding performance on Wednesday, going 2-for-3 with two home runs, four RBI, and crossing the plate for a third run in the Yankees’ victory over the Blue Jays. This prompted his teammate to ponder what would have been this season for Aaron Judge and the Yankees had he not been injured at Dodger Stadium in early June.

Facing Jose Berrios, who had retired the initial nine batters, Aaron Judge made his mark by launching the first pitch he saw to the right field, securing his 36th home run of the season. In the seventh inning, the Yankees slugger continued his power display, sending a towering shot to left-center off Trevor Richards, marking his 37th home run of the season.

What if Aaron Judge wasn’t injured

Following a brief respite Tuesday, Aaron Judge reentered New York’s lineup with a roar on Wednesday, knocking in four of the Yankees’ six tallies with a pair of two-run big flies. The 31-year-old fly chaser has now launched five homers in his last four outings, after managing just one in his previous 17 affairs. Aaron Judge has already clobbered 37 pitches into the seats this campaign, tied for eighth-most in the majors, rather remarkable considering he spent nearly two months recovering on the injured list. He’s swinging at a .269 clip overall, with a 1.029 OPS, while crossing the plate 77 times and driving in 75 runs over 445 trips to the plate.

When Aaron Judge rocketed his 36th and 37th round-trippers of the campaign in just his 103rd games this season, Gerrit Cole had one burning inquiry on his mind.

Later on, he wistfully questioned, “Could we possibly have some padding at Dodger Stadium?”

Naturally, Aaron Judge endured a two-month absence due to a torn ligament in his right big toe, an injury sustained when he made a remarkable catch there, crashing into the right-field wall on June 3.

The trajectory of the Yankees’ season could have been markedly different had it not been for that pivotal play. In Aaron Judge’s scenario, he could have been on track for another season with over 60 home runs, a feat he achieved previously.

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Manager Aaron Boone marveled at the performance, commenting that it was incredible after the Yankees’ 6-0 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. He recalled saying to either hitting coach Sean Casey or bench coach Carlos Mendoza after the second home run, “That’s 37 with two months out.” He found it remarkable to witness. Boone also noted that it was fitting for Aaron Judge to have that night on the same night when Gerrit Cole made another excellent show with a shut-out game. He found it pretty cool and expressed that it was enjoyable to watch two great players excel in their respective roles.

Aaron Judge’s impressive pair of home runs on Wednesday were both accompanied by two-run contributions. The initial one was launched against Jose Berrios, and he continued his power display by going deep again off reliever Trevor Richards. This marked the seventh time and third this year that Aaron Judge had a multi-home run game.

He, displaying his commitment to the Yankees despite their postseason absence, is currently tied for third place in the American League for home runs, even while not operating at full health.

Gerrit Cole dominated with a complete-game shutout, and Aaron Judge smashed two home runs, propelling the Yankees to a resounding 6-0 victory against the Blue Jays.

Yankees injury worries

The Yankees will have a multitude of areas to examine closely during their comprehensive organizational review this offseason. A particularly noteworthy aspect deserving of thorough scrutiny is the significant surge in injuries the team has experienced in recent seasons.

The Yankees made substantial changes to their strength and conditioning departments as they entered the 2020 season, appointing Eric Cressey as the Director of Health and Player Performance. They had suggested that his influence would take time to be fully realized, yet as of Wednesday, the Yankees had a total of 29 players who had collectively spent 2,089 days on the injured list during the season, according to Spotrac. This ranked them third in the majors in terms of player injuries.

Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge are in a somber mood after German allowed 10-0 lead to the Mariners against at the Yankees on June 22, 2023.

A few of these injuries, such as Aaron Judge’s toe ligament tear and Rizzo’s post-concussion syndrome following a collision with Fernando Tatis Jr. at first base, could be categorized as bizarre or unexpected in nature. Additionally, several injuries have fallen into the troublesome category of soft-tissue strains.

Boone acknowledged that there are certain things that cannot be avoided. He mentioned that in his view, a broken toe in Aaron Judge from running into the wall isn’t a sign of breaking down. He also pointed out that soft-tissue injuries can sometimes result from such incidents. Additionally, he noted that various factors, including the composition of the roster with more veteran players, play a role in these considerations. Boone emphasized that this topic is a complex one that would require a much longer conversation to fully discuss.

The Yankees aren’t the only team grappling with injury challenges this season, but they haven’t managed to adapt to these setbacks as effectively as some of their counterparts, contributing to their absence from the postseason. Indeed, the season would have been different had Aaron Judge not been injured and on the active roster for 162 games.

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