NEW YORK – Yankees fans are starting to get used to the sight of Aaron Judge hitting home runs again. What happened on his solo blast Monday night, however, has never been seen before.
With one out in the fifth inning of New York's exhibition game at Yankee Stadium, DJ LeMahieu hit into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play. First baseman Rhys Hoskins stepped on the bag for one before chasing down Gio Urshela in a pickle, recording the third out of the frame.
As the Phillies began to jog off the field, YES Network went to break. After all, that's how baseball works. Three outs mean your turn at the plate has come and gone.
Instead, as televisions flipped over to a car commercial, Philadelphia's manager Joe Girardi waved for those in red jerseys to stay on the field. Evidently the skipper—in his return to the Bronx after a decade as New York's manager—wanted right-hander Vince Velasquez to face one more hitter.
Philadelphia's defenders re-assumed their positions across the diamond and in stepped Aaron Judge.
Coming off a two-homer night on Sunday against the Mets—and after a week full of long balls as he continues to silence injury concerns—the star right fielder deposited a fastball over the fence in right-center field.
What happened next is where things got weird.
As No. 99 turned the first base bag, the Phillies began to come off the field. It was as though he had smacked a walk-off homer.
Turning toward third, Judge hesitated, noticing all nine Phillies heading toward the third-base dugout. He took a stutter step toward the Bombers' dugout before resuming his home run trot, laughing along the way.
"I think Joe just wanted Velasquez to get to a pitch count so I think he wanted him to see one more batter," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Judge obliged."
Yankee Stadium's crowd noise remained at a constant volume from when the ball was crushed off Judge's bat to when he was greeted by his teammates. After all, the 428-foot blast—scorching off the slugger's bat at 107.2 mph per Statcast—was worthy of applause.
Virtual fans notwithstanding, the real ones at home didn't get to see the long ball live.
Official scorers in the press box ruled the home run did count, even if three outs had already been recorded. As if baseball during the coronavirus, with all its new rules and regulations, could get any more complicated.
"Judge looks really locked in right now," LeMahieu said. "Really locked in for not having a spring training and having few ABs, he looks really, really good. Another impressive swing."
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