Aaron Judge belts long homer, clutch hit in 11th to propel Yankees

PHOENIX — Before the series began at Chase Field, Aaron Boone told Aaron Judge that he wanted him to go visit the pool in right-center field at some point.

The Yankees’ captain obliged on Wednesday in his biggest game of the young season to help secure a series victory.

Judge ripped his first home run of the year, an opposite-field blast that landed near the pool to give the Yankees a lead in the fourth inning before adding an RBI double in the 11th for what proved to be the winning run in a 6-5 victory over the Diamondbacks.


Aaron Judge celebrates with Anthony Volpe after hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the Yankees' 6-5, 11-inning win over the Diamondbacks.
Aaron Judge celebrates with Anthony Volpe after hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 6-5, 11-inning win over the Diamondbacks. AP

“We’ll take it, we’ll take it,” Judge said with a grin.

After missing time late in spring training with abdominal discomfort, Judge had gotten off to a quiet start to the season, entering Wednesday 3-for-24 with a double and one RBI.

He was far from alone in that regard, though, as Juan Soto, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera had largely fueled the Yankees’ offense through their 5-0 start.

Plus, while Judge had homered on Opening Day last year, in 2022 it took him until the sixth game before he went deep; that, of course, was the first of 62 that year on the way to the AL MVP.


Aaron Judge belts the game-winning RBI double in the 11th inning of the Yankees' win over the Diamondbacks.
Aaron Judge belts the game-winning RBI double in the 11th inning of the Yankees’ win over the Diamondbacks. AP

Wednesday was Judge’s best game yet with his first multi-hit effort, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk.

“It’s early in the season that you can get caught up as a player looking at the scoreboard and seeing where your average is,” Judge said. “You see guys up there hitting .600 and you kind of get discouraged, but it’s part of the season. You’re going to get 600 at-bats. You go through some tough stretches, those are miniscule compared to the whole season. It’s just about staying the course.”

Boone called Judge’s home run “one of his patented ones,” going the other way on a sinker low in the zone to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

“Judge was great,” Boone said. “He’s getting there. I felt like he was getting there a little bit [Tuesday] night, just missed a couple swings. With Aaron, it’s a matter of time.”

Judge later came to the plate in the 11th with a runner on second, one out and the Yankees up 5-4. He shot a double again to the opposite field to score Gleyber Torres from second.

“Everybody knows, 9-9 is our captain — we go when he goes,” Alex Verdugo said.

Asked if he thought the Diamondbacks might walk him intentionally with first base open, Judge deflected.

“I feel like I’m hitting .100 right now, so I think it was the right choice,” he said. “I haven’t been swinging it the way we want to, but it worked out this time.”

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