NEW YORK -- Move over, The Yankee Clipper. Here comes The Judge.
Aaron Judge belted his Major League-leading 29th home run in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays, matching a Yankees rookie franchise record set in 1936 by Joe DiMaggio (29).
"It's incredible," Judge said. "Any time you're in the same sentence with somebody like DiMaggio, it's pretty incredible. It's quite an honor."
Judge and DiMaggio were born 57 miles apart; Judge in Linden, Calif., and DiMaggio in Martinez, Calif. Judge's two-run blast to the bullpen in right-center field was his second home run in as many days, trimming Toronto's lead to 5-2 at the time.
The right-handed slugger went to the opposite field with a 92.1-mph fastball from Marco Estrada, coming off his bat at 108.2 mph with a launch degree of 36 degrees. The drive traveled a Statcast-calculated 398 feet.
"He's a strong kid," Estrada said. "I thought he popped it up, to be honest with you, and it just kept going."
As Judge prepares to participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, the only rookie in Major League history with more home runs prior to an All-Star break was Mark McGwire, who had 33 homers at the break for the 1987 Athletics.
Judge seemed to be more impressed by first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who made his Yankees debut on Wednesday and slugged a two-run homer in the fifth inning that flew 457 feet, according to Statcast™.
"That was awesome. You see how far he hit that ball?" Judge said. "That was incredible. He had some good at-bats, he was battling and he just kept putting the ball in play. There's nothing more you can ask for."
The 25-year-old Judge played a key role in the rest of the game. In the seventh, Brett Gardner tried for a bunt single and wound up with a sacrifice that left first base open, with the Blue Jays electing to intentionally walk Judge.
A promising rally fizzled, as Danny Barnes struck out Gary Sanchez and got Didi Gregorius to fly out to right field.
"I'm thinking about what I'm going to do that at-bat, thinking about what he's going to try to do to me and what my approach is going to be," Judge said. "I'm not thinking about intentional walks."
Down a run in the ninth, Gardner's two-out single brought Judge up as the potential winning run. On a 2-2 count, Roberto Osuna snapped off an 87.9-mph slider that Judge waved at, sealing the Yanks' 16th loss in 22 games.
"That's the moment you want to be up," Judge said. "A runner on, a chance to win the ballgame. That's what you dream of. I just wasn't able to come up and get the job done."