LOS ANGELES -- The stars always shine brightest here in Hollywood, and the reviews of Aaron Judge's latest blockbuster catch are in: It’s a smash hit.
Judge made one of the most splendid catches of his career in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 6-3 Yankees victory over the Dodgers, running full speed to rob an extra-base hit from J.D. Martinez before crashing through the right-field bullpen gate at Dodger Stadium.
“I think the fence got most of it,” Judge said. “Thankfully, it was that part of the wall where it had some give. I think that saved me quite a bit. If it was a solid wall, it might be a different story.”
An instant addition to Judge’s highlight reel, the play occurred with Michael King on the mound and Max Muncy at first base. King left a 2-2 sinker up that Martinez sliced the opposite way, sending the reigning American League MVP digging hard toward the warning track.
The 6-foot-7 Judge reached up to glove the ball an instant before he slammed face-first into a chain-link fence, jarring the gate loose as he stumbled inside. According to Statcast, Judge covered 79 feet in 4.7 seconds to make the play, which had a catch probability of 50 percent.
“That was so amazing. That's what an MVP does,” said Oswaldo Cabrera, who added insurance with a ninth-inning homer. “We know he's that guy. We know he's from another planet.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the play reminded him of the famous 1991 highlight of Rodney McCray running through an outfield wall, except this one happened in The Show.
“Just another awesome catch added to the list, in a big-time spot,” Boone said. “I knew it was going to be dead on the run with a tough catch there, and then your heart skips a beat when the fence goes flying open.”
“I thought it was a double, a sure double,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Judge made a heck of a play out there. That could have flipped the inning.”
Judge appeared to be staggered briefly by the impact. He was visited first by center fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa, then by Boone, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and head athletic trainer Tim Lentych, plus assistant athletic trainer Alfonso Malaguti.
As the group approached from the infield, Judge waved them off. Boone continued into the outfield grass, shouting to Judge: “I just wanted to tell you what a great catch that was.”
Judge grinned, then replied: “All right, beat it, guys. We’ve got to finish this inning.”
Boone said that Judge mentioned some discomfort in one of his toes and was unsure if that might keep Judge from playing in Sunday’s series finale; Judge said after the game that he was “feeling good.” Judge did have one complaint: He wasn’t pleased that the umpires awarded Muncy second base, penalizing Judge for exiting the field.
“It wasn’t like I tumbled over and went out of play. The fence broke,” Judge said. “I would have had an issue with that if they had scored.”
But the Dodgers didn’t, and it was another do-it-all day for Judge, who enjoyed a two-homer game while robbing a home run just five nights ago in Seattle to open this West Coast swing. Earlier in Saturday’s contest, Judge hit his American League-leading 19th home run, a solo sixth-inning shot off Shelby Miller.
“I do try and tell myself, every now and then, to appreciate what you're watching,” Boone said. “He's just one of the great players you'll see. He does it in so many ways, and he's the best person. You just appreciate that he's our leader.”
The gate-bending grab upstaged the first multihomer game of Jake Bauers’ career, as the outfielder showed off his reconstructed swing by supporting Gerrit Cole with two-run homers in the second and fourth innings. Bauers said that Judge’s catch was “unbelievable.”
“The guy just does it on both ends of the field,” Bauers said. “He probably saved the game right there. He at least saved a lot of the momentum and swung it back our way."
Cole permitted a run on four hits over six innings, an 80-pitch effort that ended early due to cramping in his right leg. Cole had plunged his frame into a cold tub deep within the bowels of Dodger Stadium by the eighth, watching on television as Judge plowed through the fence.
“He's amazing, man,” Cole said. “There's some great players in this series, no doubt; a couple of Hall of Famers on the other side as well. But he's just on another level. There’s not a weak part of his game. Gosh, what a blessing to have him on my team.”