Aaron Judge’s Power Bursts Back Into View With a Towering Blast
SEATTLE — When Andrew Moore’s curveball arrived — slow, letter-high and delicious — Aaron Judge did not consider what the last week had been like for him.
There was the spike in strikeouts, the tough luck — like Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. leaping at the Fenway Park wall to steal a home run — and the oversized hole he had left in the heart of the Yankees’ batting order since the All-Star Game break.
Instead, Judge kept his hands in and his swing tight, and he lit into the baseball with his 35-inch, 33-ounce bat as it crossed home plate. What followed was a familiar sound, a heavy thwack that had been heard throughout the first half of the season, and over and over again during the Home Run Derby, but had been absent since.
The ball carried on a high arc toward left field and landed in the next-to-last row of the upper deck at Safeco Field for a three-run, fifth-inning home run that proved to be the punctuating blow of the Yankees’ 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
No player has ever hit a ball out of Safeco Field in a game — though the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz did in batting practice last season — and it is hard to imagine many coming as close as Judge’s did. The home run was estimated at 440 feet.
“I hate the Yankees, but that was impressive,” said Jennifer Dixon, who watched the ball sail over her head and into the hands of Rob Sibley, a third-year medical student who caught it with his bare hands and then fired it back onto the field.
“When he hit it, I never thought it would get to me,” Sibley said. “Where I was sitting, you never think it’s possible that somebody could hit the ball up there. It’s a long way up.”
The decision to throw the ball back on the field “was probably a moment of weakness,” Sibley said. “I mean, this was Aaron Judge, a potential M.V.P.”
The actual distance of the home run was hard to determine. Statcast, the analytics tool that uses high-speed, pitch-tracking cameras to gather reams of data on each pitch, did not register a distance on the home run, according to the Mariners. Comparing it to other long home runs…