BRONX — When two of baseball’s biggest names in Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and Los Angeles Angels two-way threat Shohei Ohtani go head to head, it’s must-watch baseball. On Wednesday night, it was Judge that got the best of Ohtani and the Yanks that took the second game of the three-game set 3-2 in extra innings.
It was Gleyber Torres that hit a sac fly in the bottom of the 10th to drive home Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The Angels intentionally walked Judge after Anthony Volpe popped out to start the inning, then Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
“I don’t really want to put too much on my swing,” Torres said about the last at bat. “I don’t try to hit a grand slam or anything like that. Just put the ball in play. I know just one out. Just want to hit a fly ball deep and just really happy to get that opportunity and do something for my team tonight.”
Two plays punctuated Judge’s highlight reel night against Ohtani, with the first coming in the field during the top of the first. Ohtani took a 3-2 changeup deep to center field where it looked like it was headed for Monument Park, but a leaping Judge snagged the ball with his glove before it could get over the wall and then caught it with his bare hand after it fell out of his glove.
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“If I was a good outfielder I would have caught it on the first try,” Judge joked about the play. “I did a little juggling act there, but we made the play. It’s tough timing those ones up. Glad we don’t have a roof here cause that thing definitely would have hit the roof or something. It’s impressive what Ohtani can do.”
The Yankees captain followed that up with a two-run home run that went 412 feet into the left field stands well beyond the reach of any Angels outfielders. The homer was Judge’s team-leading sixth of the season and tied him for fifth in the majors in home runs this season.
Judge’s defensive prowess came in hand yet again in the eighth inning when Brandon Drury hit a ball to right-center field that looked like it was destined to drop between Judge and Franchy Cordero. However, Judge ran down the ball and made a diving catch to keep the game tied at two after Gio Urshela had just tied things up in the previous at bat.
“I mean, those are up there and even looking back and seeing the replay of the home run, you know, he got up there pretty good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about Judge’s night. Then, you know, played a little volleyball with it to finish it off, but I had a good look at him the whole way on Drury’s ball and I felt like he had a beat on it. I thought he had a really good jump on it and was closing on it. But he had to do it just right and then obviously laid out. Obviously a huge play in the game.”
Reliever Clay Holmes managed to get a big out in the ninth after walking Tyler Ward and Ohtani with two outs by getting Mike Trout to strikeout swinging on a 3-3 slider to end the threat.
Ohtani got the best of the Yankees in the first game of the series on Tuesday when he hit a first-inning home run and helped lead the Angels to a win, but Wednesday night’s round went to the Bombers. Ohtani grounded out in the third inning on Wednesday and struck out swinging to end the top of the fifth and leave a runner stranded on third.
Judge’s two-run blast stood as the only runs of the game until the top of the fifth inning when the Angels took advantage of a pair of runners getting on base. Yankees starter Jhony Brito was taken out of the game after walking Matt Thaiss and giving up a double to Zach Neto, but reliever Michael King managed to hold the Angels to just one run with Thaiss scoring on a ground out to shortstop.
King got out of another jam in the sixth inning when he allowed the first two hitters to get on base. The Yankees reliever was then able to get Hunter Renfroe to ground into a double play and then struck out Urshella looking.
Wandy Peralta, who came into the game in the top of the seventh to get Ohtani out with runners on first and second. Peralta got Ohtani to swing at a changeup inside to end the inning and the Angels’ threat.
The game-tying run came in the top of the eighth when Urshella hit an RBI single to center field after Renfroe singled and then moved to second on a balk.
Brito threw 4.1 innings on Wednesday night allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out three. He also walked three batters in the outing.
It was Brito’s first start since a disastrous outing against the Minnesota Twins last Thursday which he didn’t make it out of the first inning. The righty was much better on Wednesday night for the Yankees limiting the Angels scoring chances until the fifth inning.