BALTIMORE — When the Yankees first examined the pitcher-friendly changes made to Camden Yards’ dimensions, Aaron Judge scowled, saying that the deeper left-field wall had spoiled one of his favorite locations to hit. He seems to have figured the place out.
Judge homered twice in his first three trips to home plate on Friday evening in the Inner Harbor, swelling his Major League-leading long ball total to 36 while grabbing a share of some franchise history in New York’s 7-6 victory over the Orioles.
“My dad actually texted me [on Friday] and said, ‘Hey, make sure you go to right field — they’ve got that big wall in left field,’” Judge said. “I told him I might try to get one over that. We got two.”
With a Major League-leading eight multihomer games this season and 24 in his career, Judge is the fifth Yankee to enjoy eight multihomer games in a season, joining Babe Ruth (1927), Mickey Mantle (1961), Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Gleyber Torres (2019).
“What more can you say?” said manager Aaron Boone. “He’s been the best player in the league. Tonight, the way he hit those balls, it’s just really impressive what he continues to do. He plays a great center field. He’s just doing a little bit of everything.”
Judge is on pace for 61 homers, which would equal Roger Maris’ 1961 total — still standing as an American League record. No Major Leaguer has hit 60 homers in a season since Barry Bonds hit 73 and Sammy Sosa hit 64 in 2001, and Judge’s teammates believe he can get there.
“At the rate he’s going, he could definitely accomplish anything,” right-hander Jameson Taillon said. “The impressive thing about him is, he comes in and puts super professional at-bats together every night. He waits for the pitcher to make a mistake and he jumps on it. It doesn’t seem to be in his head or anything.”
Judge is still seeking the first three-homer game of his career, but he provided Taillon with an early lead in the third inning. Judge’s three-run shot off starter Tyler Wells sailed toward the left-field bullpens, projected at 436 feet by Statcast.
“I was happy to get on the board with the first one to give our pitching staff an early lead,” Judge said. “When you give our team an early lead, it usually comes out to a good outcome.”
Coincidentally, the 6-foot-8 Wells is the only player that Judge (6-foot-7) has homered off in the big leagues who is taller than him.
“It just shows with Judge or even that entire Yankees lineup, you miss [in the] middle, you make mistakes, you’re going to pay for it,” Wells said. “That’s part of the reason why they’re the best team in baseball.”
Judge went deep again in the fifth inning, clearing the visiting bullpen with a solo blast projected at a jaw-dropping 465 feet. It was Judge’s longest of the season and the third-farthest homer tracked at Camden Yards.
“Him and Giancarlo [Stanton], when they really step on one, I try to calm myself just so I can take the flight in,” Boone said. “It’s just different.”
Judge has always enjoyed swinging big against the O’s; his 34 career homers in 82 games against Baltimore are his most against any opponent.
He need not have fretted about the remodeling; in hopes of assisting their up-and-coming pitching staff, the Orioles tweaked the outfield dimensions of their retro park, which opened in 1992.
The left-field wall was pushed back 30 feet and the outfield wall raised by 12 feet, which cost Judge what could have been his first career three-homer game on May 17, when it swallowed a first-inning blast that saw Judge get thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple.
Judge’s 36 homers are six ahead of the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber (30) for the Major League lead, and eight ahead of the Astros’ Yordan Alvarez (28) in the AL. Judge said that the leaderboard isn’t something he pays much attention to.
“There’s no need,” Judge said. “It’s not what I’m getting paid to do. I’m getting paid to help the Yankees win games. That’s what I try to focus on. I look more at the standings than anything.”