BOSTON -- There was no time for Aaron Judge to consider self-preservation as he raced toward the right-field line on Wednesday evening, snatching Xander Bogaerts' third-inning popup in the webbing of his glove before flipping over a low wall and into an empty red seat.
Combined with a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, Judge's Fenway Park debut made for a 25th birthday that he won't soon forget, helping the Yankees celebrate a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox.
"I just saw a ball I could get to and tried to do anything I could to catch it," Judge said. "Once I fell into the stands, I didn't really know what to do after that. I'm like, 'Do I throw it from here? Do I have to step back onto the field?' I was just glad I was able to make the play."
• Cut4: Fans react to Judge's tumble
Yankees pitcher Luis Severino doffed his cap to Judge, but the play was initially ruled a foul ball. The Yankees almost immediately challenged, and the call was overturned; Judge explained that while out of view of the umpires, he had transferred the ball from his glove to his throwing hand.
"That's a big boy to be piled up on the nachos and peanuts in the front row," Brett Gardner said. "I know he's 6'8", 280, but he used to play center field. He's still probably capable of doing that. He's a guy that is capable of doing more than hitting a ball a long way."
Initially reminded of a similar play three years ago at Tropicana Field that sent veteran Carlos Beltran into an MRI tube, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he held his breath while waiting for Judge to emerge from the seating area, then applauded the rookie's hustle.
"I wish he didn't catch it," Bogaerts said. "I thought he didn't, to be honest, but then on the replay I pretty much saw he caught it. It was a good play by him. You never know what could have happened. Could have got a strikeout, a hit, anything. You never know. He just made a good play right there."
Judge said that a pregame conversation with teammate Jacoby Ellsbury may have bought him some valuable ground.
"He won two World Series here and knows this outfield pretty well," Judge said. "He helped me with positioning a little bit, where to start, where to move over on certain guys. Having that advice and giving me a couple of extra steps to the foul line really helped me out."
The play helped the Yankees maintain the lead after Judge mashed his team-leading seventh home run, a two-run blast that cleared the visiting bullpen in right field. The blast was measured at 385 feet by Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 109.7 mph and a launch angle of 27 degrees.
"He's been doing it all year long," Girardi said. "Doesn't matter where he hits it. If he puts the barrel to it and gets it in the air, it's got a good chance to go out."
Judge joined Cody Ransom (2008) as the only Yankees to homer in their first at-bats at both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, while joining Yogi Berra (May 12, 1947) and Roger Maris (Sept. 10, 1966) as the only Yankees to hit Fenway homers on their birthdays.
"Maybe 26 might be better, I don't know," Judge said.