NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge became the first player in the majors with 40 home runs this season with a two-run drive for the New York Yankees against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
The 6-foot-7 Judge robbed a home run from MJ Melendez to begin the game, then hit an estimated 449-foot homer in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. It was his second homer in three at-bats after he hit a game-ending drive in the ninth inning of a 1-0 win against Kansas City on Thursday night.
The four-time All-Star is on pace for 64 home runs in his final season under New York’s control. The club record is 61, set by Roger Maris in 1961. Judge, Maris and Babe Ruth in 1928 are the only Yankees with at least 40 homers by the end of July, per MLB.com.
Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber came into the night second in the majors with 32 homers. Judge hit a career-high 52 homers while winning AL Rookie of the Year in 2017.
In the first inning Friday, the 6-foot-7 Judge jumped and reached over the roughly 8-foot right-field wall to deny Melendez, who put a charge into Gerrit Cole’s fourth pitch. Judge fell on the warning track after making the grab, and it took him a moment to lift his glove and confirm he’d made the catch. Yankee Stadium erupted when he did.
The leaping snag also extended the Royals’ scoreless streak into a fourth game. They came into Friday with three straight shutouts and hadn’t scored since the eighth inning of a 7-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.