Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Judge thought game-tying homer had been caught when Phillies' outfielder jumped for it

Spring training baseball, especially early spring training baseball, is rarely exciting.

The starters -- still rusty from the winter -- usually struggle before coming out after a few innings, and the prospects who follow them are often even worse. Indeed, the last few frames of major-league exhibitions tend to involve very little offense, and it seems whichever team leads after the fifth already has a win locked up. 

Except for in Tuesday's contest between the Yankees and Phillies, of course, when Yankees' outfielder Aaron Judge surprised the Clearwater crowd with a game-tying three-run home run in the top of ninth.

"I thought he robbed it," Judge told NJ.com of the blast to left, which barely cleared the glove of leaping Phillies' defender Aaron Altherr. "[I thought], 'should I turn around or keep going?' So I just kept going and no one stopped me."

Judge's homer -- the first for the Yankees this March -- evened the score at five, and highlighted a four-run rally for New York in the at-bat. The Yankees -- after a Rob Refsnyder strikeout -- still failed to ever re-take the lead, but once the umpires decided against playing extras, they had at least salvaged a draw.

And since Judge has high goals for the upcoming season, one has to assume he's pretty pleased with such an outcome.

"I'm trying to make it as hard as I can for them to send me back across the street to the minor leagues," Judge said. "So doing whatever I can to help us win."

Judge's clutch shot will likely go down as one of the few memorable moments on the day for the Yankees, who had collected just three hits in their six turns on offense prior to it. A recurring trend for the Yankees all afternoon appeared to be a failure to work the count -- something particularly noticeable in the 0-for-3 performances of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.

But that didn't look to be much of a problem with Judge, who says he's trying to see as many pitches as he can during camp. 

"I was just trying to go out there and find a good pitch," Judge said.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)