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Tough to Judge up-and-down night for rookie

Yankees outfielder blasts deep homer, but also makes a key error
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- On the August evening that Aaron Judge's cell phone buzzed with the news that he was being called up to the Major Leagues, the Yankees prospect had just sat down for a postgame meal in a Rochester, N.Y., restaurant, staring at a cooling hamburger that would be left unfinished.

That word, unfinished, has been tossed around regarding the 24-year-old slugger in recent weeks. He has offered flashes of tantalizing potential, but also evidence of growing pains. Case in point: Judge committed a key error, then hit a tape-measure homer in the Yanks' 8-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Full Game Coverage

NEW YORK -- On the August evening that Aaron Judge's cell phone buzzed with the news that he was being called up to the Major Leagues, the Yankees prospect had just sat down for a postgame meal in a Rochester, N.Y., restaurant, staring at a cooling hamburger that would be left unfinished.

That word, unfinished, has been tossed around regarding the 24-year-old slugger in recent weeks. He has offered flashes of tantalizing potential, but also evidence of growing pains. Case in point: Judge committed a key error, then hit a tape-measure homer in the Yanks' 8-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Full Game Coverage

"I don't think I'd make too much of it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We can overanalyze the situations. He's played really well, so I'm not going to make too much of it."

Still, Judge's second-inning miscue proved costly and stood as one of the biggest reasons why Bryan Mitchell was taking a third-inning shower after permitting six runs (two earned).

With two outs and two men on, Chase Utley lifted a deep fly ball that Judge tracked into the right-center-field gap. Converging with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Judge called for the ball late and watched it smack off his glove, falling to the turf as Howie Kendrick and Andrew Toles charged home.

"I called it a little late. Should have made the play, and hit it off my glove," Judge said. "It's tough. Mitchell was out there grinding. Just didn't come up and make the play for him."

Corey Seager followed with an RBI single that knocked in Utley for the Dodgers' fourth run of the evening. Girardi thought that Judge had made a good effort just to get close to Utley's drive.

"They're close, he's running a long ways, it just happens," Girardi said. "They're both going after it. It gets loud sometimes, you can't hear each other, so it's a play he's normally going to make."

Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said that he believed charging Judge with an error was a questionable call on the part of the official scorer.

"I thought the ball was hit well in the gap, and I thought Judge ran a long way to go get it," Gardner said. "A lot of guys aren't even getting a glove on it. Him and Ells, it looked like they about ran into each other, which wouldn't have been good for either of them -- especially Jacoby -- so I'm just thankful they didn't collide."

Judge partially atoned in the fifth inning when he slugged his fourth Major League home run, a long drive to left-center off Dodgers starter Jose De Leon that cleared the bullpen to land in the bleachers.

Video: LAD@NYY: Judge crushes home run 115.2 mph

According to Statcast™, Judge's exit velocity was 115.2 mph, making it the hardest home run hit by a Yankee this year and the ninth-hardest homer in the Majors. The shot was projected at 436 feet, the ninth-longest by a Yankee this year.

"Just like any other one," Judge said. "Happy to get an extra run on the board."

The homer, his first since Aug. 30 at Kansas City, snapped a 33 at-bat homerless stretch for Judge. It came as part of a 1-for-4 night in which he also struck out twice, giving him 41 K's in 83 at-bats, but Judge said that he likes where his plate approach is now.

"I feel great. I've felt great the past couple of weeks," Judge said. "I've just got to keep building on that at-bat and take it into tomorrow's game."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge