Hard hit balls seem to be going New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge’s way this season. The 25-year-old rookie leads the majors with 30 home runs, and an incredible 40 percent of his fly balls are leaving the park this year.
He nearly upped both those totals Sunday night against the Boston Red Sox, but no home run is safe when Jackie Bradley Jr. is patrolling center.
With Judge at the plate in the top of the eighth inning, Bradley showed why scouts have projected him to be a perennial Gold Glove candidate since his prospect days. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Judge smashed a ball to deep center at Fenway Park.
Bradley tracked the ball out to the deepest part of the park, just in front of the 420 sign in center. It’s the area of Fenway where the high wall in center meets the shorter railing near the bullpen in right. Bradley ran up against that side railing, jumped up and robbed the ball from going over the fence. It would have been a definite home run had Bradley missed the ball or mistimed his jump.
Judge could only stare out at Bradley and give a slight nod after he realized he had a home run taken away. While the hit would have been nice for his individual numbers, it wouldn’t have helped the Yankees win the contest. They were down 3-0 when Judge put a charge into the ball with a man on first. They went on to lose by that score.
Don’t feel too bad for Judge. He’s still leading the majors in home runs, so it’s not like he’s getting many stolen from him this season.
Next time he’s in Fenway, though, he may not want to hit it to center. Not just because it’s the deepest part of the park, but because that’s Bradley’s territory. The only balls that fall there seem to drop right into his glove.
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