NEW YORK -- Two days into his Yankees tenure, Aaron Judge is showing he can handle the big league stage.Judge homered for the second straight day Sunday in the Yankees' 12-3 loss to the Rays, roping a pitch to the opposite field just over the right-field wall for his second
NEW YORK -- Two days into his Yankees tenure, Aaron Judge is showing he can handle the big league stage.
Judge homered for the second straight day Sunday in the Yankees' 12-3 loss to the Rays, roping a pitch to the opposite field just over the right-field wall for his second career home run. The blast was estimated by Statcast™ to have traveled 362 feet with an exit velocity of 102 mph. While it was a far cry from his 446-foot bomb to center field in his debut Saturday, the home run got New York on the board and was a rare feat in the history of the Yankees.
Judge is just the second Yankee to homer in back-to-back games to start his career, joining Joe Lefebvre, who achieved the feat on May 22-23, 1980. On Saturday, Judge and Tyler Austin became the first pair of teammates to hit their first career home runs in their debut games and just the fourth and fifth Yankees to hit home runs in their first plate appearance or at-bat.
"I don't think we expect a homer every day. I think that would be a record," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Judge's hot start. "It seems like every time he hits the ball in the air people get excited."
Judge, the Yankees' No. 4 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, was joined in the home run column Sunday by yet another rookie, No. 5 prospect Gary Sánchez. Eight of the 10 starters in the Yankees' lineup, counting pitcher Luis Severino, were under the age of 27, the most the Yankees have sent to the field since Oct. 1, 1967.
The Yankees' youngsters were actually the only run producers Sunday, as the home runs proved to be the only output the Yankees saw offensively. Beyond that, younger starters like Austin, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro all notched at least one hit as well.
But it wasn't a wholly positive day for the Yankees' core of the future. Severino and relief pitcher Luis Cessa, 22 and 24, respectively, combined to allow 12 runs off 13 hits, three of which were home runs, in 6 2/3 innings and Severino was optioned after the game. As Girardi put it, all players are going to struggle from time to time, regardless of age. But it's his job and the job of his staff to make sure these young players don't get flustered when their on-field performance doesn't live up to their high standards.
"I think all players hit bumps whether you're young or old," Girardi said. "But I think the one thing our focus has to be is helping our kids get through those bumps. You don't get here unless you're talented. You don't just come from nowhere and then all of the sudden stay here. You've got to help them get through the ups and downs."
Though the on-field slumps haven't come yet for Austin, Judge and Sanchez, the trio is still learning about life in the bigs. Without the adrenaline of his Major League debut coursing through him, for example, Austin admitted that he was probably a little more nervous Sunday than he was Saturday.
But it's the moments players best their nerves when the talent that got them to the big leagues shows through. Sanchez's home run was an occasion where this was true, a no-doubter that seemingly dwarfed Judge's shot.
"Gary's pretty good at that," Judge said. "Gary's just going to keep doing his thing and getting the barrel on the ball and I'm going to try to do the same thing."
Nick Suss is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.