Aaron Judge homers twice in first trip to San Francisco to cap off spectacular May

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Aaron Judge capped off one of the best months of his nine-year career in fitting fashion in the perfect spot.

The Northern California kid who grew up watching and attending San Francisco Giants games and dreaming of donning the orange and black, showed just why the Giants tried so hard to bring him home as a free agent two years ago to give the franchise the power hitter missing ever since Barry Bonds retired 17 years ago.

Judge homered twice in his first game ever at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, leading the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Giants on Friday night.

“You dream about in the backyard playing around a little bit,” Judge said after the game, saying Giants announcers Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper narrated those dreams.

“I’ve heard them for years call the game, heard all the homers that Barry hit here. Pretty cool.”

Judge reached on an infield hit in the first inning, launched a three-run homer in the third and then a solo shot in the sixth, giving him 14 long balls and 27 RBIs this month. Judge now leads the majors with 20 homers this season.

He finished the month with a .371 average and a 1.415 OPS. That is also quite a change from the start of the month, when Judge had a .207 average in March and April along with plenty of questions about the slow start.

“It’s hard to wrap your brain around what he’s doing,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He just kind of does his thing. He’s just so consistent with who he is as a person, as a player and the way he goes about it. It’s just fun to get to watch it.”

Boone nearly lost the chance to keep watching Judge in pinstripes when he hit free agency following the 2022 season.

Judge nearly opted to return to San Francisco — about 100 miles from his boyhood home in Linden — before signing a nine-year, $360 million contract to stay with the Yankees.

“It was close,” Judge said. “It was a while ago, but it was pretty close. They have a great organization here, a great team and great pitching staff, great young guys coming up. We just ended up going to New York.”

There were some tense moments for the Yankees during that process, including an incorrect tweet saying that “Arson Judge” was close to signing with San Francisco.

Boone said he heard about that tweet when he got out of the shower at the winter meetings and had an uncomfortable stretch before Judge agreed the following morning to the deal to stay in New York.

“It wasn’t a high time for sure, but it turned the next morning,” Boone said before the Yankees played the Giants on Friday night. “It was an uneasy 24, 30 hours for me, just the uncertainty and the unknown. Once an hour went off the clock after that tweet and I was like, I don’t think that’s true. But we are not hearing anything in our way or anything. It was an uneasy time for sure. And then waking up literally the next morning to texts and stuff from friends that he was back with us was obviously a good wakeup call.”

Judge finished the month with three homers the past two games to become the first Yankees player ever with at least 14 home runs and 12 doubles in a calendar month. His 26 extra-base hits in May are tied for the third most ever by a Yankees player, trailing only legends Joe DiMaggio (31 in July 1937) and Lou Gehrig (29 in July 1930).

Judge’s 26 extra-base hits this month mark just the eighth time that has happened since the end of World War II.

“The fact that we’re in May and all the questions about the slow start and you look up there with the season he is having, just a special player doing special things,” Boone said of Judge on Thursday night.

Judge also leads the majors in slugging (.648) and OPS (1.056) and has helped lead the Yankees to an AL-best 40-19 record.

“He’s incredible,” Yankees starter Marcus Stroman said. “It’s hard to put into words, but it definitely gives the whole team a little bit of momentum and motivation when he continues to keep going off. He’s definitely doing his part. So it just makes everybody else want to more for the squad. He’s definitely locked in.”


AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy in Anaheim contributed to this report


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up