Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was hyped up even more than hometown hero Giancarlo Stanton heading into Monday’s Home Run Derby at Marlins Park in Miami. And, boy, did he ever live up to the hype.
Judge matched up against Marlins first baseman Justin Bour in the first round and it looked like he’d have trouble advancing after Bour smacked 22 home runs. Judge tied Bour’s total of 22 homers just as regulation time expired, then hit his go-ahead 23rd home run with his 30 seconds of bonus time to advance into the second round. One of Judge’s homers went 501 feet.
Judge took on Dodgers phenom Cody Bellinger in the second round. Bellinger was able to hit 12 home runs, a very respectable total, but everyone knew it wasn’t enough to keep Judge out of the finals. Judge hit his 13th home run with one minute remaining on the clock. This time, he hit four home runs that went 500 feet or further.
In the final around, Miguel Sano was able to overcome fatigue enough to hit 10 homers. Judge tied Sano’s total with 2:18 on the clock. He hit his 11th and Derby-winning homer at 2:02. None of his homers in the finals went 500 feet, though.
The relatively new format of the Derby makes it difficult to compare, but Judge’s performance may very well have been the most dominant performance in a Home Run Derby. It didn’t seem like any of his opponents had a chance.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.