When you hit 62 home runs to establish a new American League record during the regular season, people tend to forget about everything else you can do. Sometimes, a gentle reminder is necessary.
Aaron Judge gave us that reminder in the first inning of the Yankees' 4-2 loss in Game 1 of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night. With Astros on first and second and one out, Alex Bregman lined a ball that was destined for the gap in right-center field. Judge got a good jump, made a beeline for where the ball was projected to land and laid out to make a sensational catch.
The play was not only aesthetically pleasing, it saved at least a run and probably two. According to Statcast, Judge had to cover 60 feet in 3.9 seconds to make the grab, demonstrating his terrific defensive ability in addition to his famous capacity for slugging homers.
“I was trying to do my job there,” Judge said after the game. “Bregman’s a guy that can spread it all around the field. Off the bat, I thought I had a good jump, kind of lost it in the lights for a second, but I knew I had [Harrison] Bader near me, so if I dive and miss it, I know he's right there to pick me up.”
Not that Judge isn't doing that during the postseason, too -- he launched a pair of homers in the ALDS against the Guardians. His solo shot in the second inning of Game 5 on Tuesday was his fourth career homer in a winner-take-all postseason game, another record to add to all he's accomplished in 2022.
“In working with him for a few weeks, [that felt] pretty routine,” said Bader. “He had it the entire way. The ball was hit, I saw his break on it, I saw the angle he took to it, I knew he was going to catch it the entire way. That's a tough catch moreso just because of the lights, the way they're situated in the stadium, not so much the ball itself. But again, he is who he is because of his ability to make plays on all sides of the baseball like that. That was a big one for us.”