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Aaron Judge continues to be everything for Yankees


The MVP long ago decided, Aaron Judge is taking pennant-race matters into his own very large hands. He took over the Subway Series, hitting early stage-setting home runs in both games, driving in half the runs Tuesday in Game 2, lifting the Yankees out of their inexplicable funk and restoring faith in a team that’s suddenly looking like a powerhouse again.

Judge’s latest work of art landed 453 feet from home plate, a 115 mph drive deep into the lower deck in left field at Yankee Stadium that was home run No. 48. Now let’s see how far he can carry this Yankees ballclub that started to show a few too many cracks over the past month plus.

Singlehandedly, he turned a depression into a celebration almost as fast as he turned around replacement starter Taijuan Walker’s 3-and-2, fourth-inning offering. Judge is back on pace to beat Roger Maris, the Yankees’ lead seems pretty secure and all is right in The Bronx, at least for the moment.

Walker and recent Yankees acquisition Frankie Montas were locked in a scoreless duel when Judge pulled this one into oblivion, the key blow in a needed sweep for the Yankees, who spent the better part of a month searching for answers. This second straight 4-2 victory over the Mets before another sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium sealed the sweep and had to feel especially good after the disastrous last several weeks caused doubt to creep into the Yankees lexicon for the first time in a year that began magically.

Aaron Judge belts a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Mets.
Aaron Judge belts a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Mets.
AP

Yankees manager Aaron Boone seemed to stop the losing with that forceful slap of the interview table late Saturday. Then Judge began the winning, as he has done all year, and the Yankees are three in a row to the good.

If he has to, and at times it seems like he may, he will do it by himself.

The Yankees continue to show cracks, so he may have no choice.

In the Mets’ first run-scoring inning, Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka helped the visitors by allowing rookie Brett Baty to reach base via catcher’s interference. In the Mets’ second run, Gleyber Torres became fixated on the trail runner, trying to beat Jeff McNeil back to the second-base bag as Pete Alonso scampered home. Alonso at first tried to hustling back to third after tripping rounding the bag, but once he saw Torres lost sight of the situation, he ran home.

Aaron Judge celebrates with Andrew Benintendi after the Yankees' win.
Aaron Judge celebrates with Andrew Benintendi after the Yankees’ win.
Corey Sipkin

The Yankees were due assists on both Mets runs. Keith Hernandez had to be calling out the atrocious fundies.

It was a wild one.

Then the Mets gave one back. The Yankees scored their third run when Alonso failed to catch a high pop-up in short right field, as he turned every which way but the right way. Alonso had quite an eventful game. Earlier he broke his huge bat over his knee following a strikeout. He did not do the same to his glove, though we imagine he has that capability.

Alonso is probably the Mets’ MVP so it’s advisable for him not to try to have any more fights with his lumber. Judge, meantime, is the MVP of the Yankees, the league, everything. And, by the way, he scorched a line single to drive home Jose Trevino with the insurance run, the final dagger in a two-day, one-man display.

It’s uncertain if anyone’s had a year like this.

Aaron Judge rips an RBI single in the seventh inning of the Yankees' victory.
Aaron Judge rips an RBI single in the seventh inning of the Yankees’ victory.
Robert Sabo

Maybe Mickey Mantle in 1956 when he won the Triple Crown.

Or Carl Yastrzemski, who went on an impossible streak in the Impossible Dream season of 1967.

Or Barry Bonds a bunch of times. Although, we don’t really count those. Not in this space.

Judge, now on pace for 62 home runs, took over this series, and long ago he took over this season.

There are still those few holdouts who suggest the great Shohei Ohtani for MVP. Ohtani is the most amazing player. The most miraculous player.

But he is not the MVP. The MVP is the guy who’s shown his own sort of versatility.

The guy who plays center field because they need it even though he is 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds. And he does it as gracefully as nearly anyone. He glided back to the wall to make a one-handed catch on a Brandon Nimmo drive with one on and one out in the eighth.

The guy who leads the league in every slugging category but will bat leadoff if called upon. And do it happily.

The guy who will fix anything that’s broken in the clubhouse. The guy who will stand up and tell a teammate when he did wrong, as he did when Josh Donaldson stepped out of line early. You’ll notice no one else has stepped out of line.

The guy who will talk and explain what’s going on when everything’s going wrong. And that was happening for a month, or more.

But now things are back to normal. And Judge is in the center of it, doing whatever he can to make things right.



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