Judge scorches hardest-hit ball of season
Yanks slugger surpasses his own mark with 119.9-mph single
NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge fired up the Yankees' offense with a rocket, barreling the hardest-hit ball in the Majors this season for a single that kick-started a three-run third inning, helping his club to a 3-1 victory over the Angels on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Leading off the frame, Judge pounced on the first pitch from Angels starter Garrett Richards, a 95.1-mph fastball that was crushed over the head of second baseman Ian Kinsler. Statcast™ registered the exit velocity at 119.9 mph, breaking Judge's own record for the hardest-hit ball of 2018.
"Richards is a guy that has got a really good fastball. He gets it up to the upper 90s," Judge said. "With a guy like him, I've just got to try to stay short and make contact. With his velo, it'll jump a little bit. For me, I was just trying to stay short and get a pitch that I could drive."
Judge would advance on one-out walks to Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius before scoring on Aaron Hicks' bases-loaded free pass, which ended Richards' afternoon. Reliever Jose Alvarez hit Greg Bird to force home another run and Miguel Andujar picked up an RBI with a fielder's choice grounder.
Before Sunday, the hardest hit in the Majors had also come from a meeting between Judge and Richards; on April 28 in Anaheim, Judge connected for a ground-ball single to center field that registered 118.1 mph off the bat.
"He does something, it seems like every day, that kind of amazes everybody," Brett Gardner said of Judge. "Anytime he or Big G [Giancarlo Stanton] or Gary [Sanchez] comes up to the plate, it's not too comfortable out there running the bases. You've really got to pay attention because the ball can get to you in a hurry."
Judge has reached base safely in seven of eight plate appearances over the past two games, collecting three hits and four walks. He is batting .351 (34-for-97) with 26 runs, six doubles, 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 28 games at Yankee Stadium this season.
"Overall, our team is just clicking," Judge said. "I think the big thing for us has been the bottom of our lineup. Our rookies -- [Miguel] Andujar and Gleyber [Torres] -- what they've done for us. When you're able to turn over the lineup like that and have guys come up in big situations and get knocks ... it's been some fun baseball."