Aaron Judge always seems to rise to the occasion — no stage too great for the 6-foot-7, 282-pound slugger, who carried these youthful and exuberant Bombers into the playoffs with a historic rookie season.
So, of course, the unfazed 25-year-old Judge, who understands that the way to Monument Park is through success in October, delivered a pair of hits — including a two-run homer — in his first-career postseason game, as the Yankees advanced to the ALDS with a 8-4 victory in their wild-card matchup with the Twins on Tuesday in the Bronx.
“There’s something about him and the way he carries himself that you just feel really good when he’s around,” Joe Girardi said. “When he’s at the plate, when he’s playing defense, when he’s standing next to you, waiting for you when you come off the field. You just feel really good when he’s around, and I felt that.”
This comes as no surprise considering No. 99 homered in his first-career MLB at-bat and won his first-career Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities in front of a nationally-televised audience. This is simply what Aaron Judge — lock for AL Rookie of the Year, and possible AL MVP as well — does.
“It’s a great team win, but we’ve got unfinished business,” said Judge, who heard “MVP!” chants from the capacity crowd.
He said he was nervous before the game, going through batting practice and player introductions, “but once the game started, it’s still the same game we’ve been playing since we were kids.”
In his first at-bat, Judge stayed right on a tough, two-strike breaking ball from Ervin Santana and served it into centerfield, putting runners on the corners and setting up Didi Gregorius’ game-tying, three-run homer.
In his third at-bat, Judge just missed a hanger from Jose Barrios early on, but he didn’t miss a second hanger, belting a screaming liner that just got over the wall in left for a two-run shot that gave the Bombers a 7-4 lead.