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 Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.