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Aaron Judge homers twice in first trip to San Francisco to cap off spectacular May

 The Associated Press  |    May 31st, 2024 2:35am EDT

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Aaron Judge capped off the one of the best months of his nine-year career by homering twice in his first game at San Francisco’s Oracle Park.

Judge took a .355 batting average into his final game in May for the second best mark in any month he’s played at least 21 games and only added to it early against the Giants on Friday night. He reached on an infield hit in the first inning, launched a three-run homer in the third and then a solo shot in the sixth, giving him 14 long balls and 29 RBIs this month.

Judge now leads the majors with 20 homers this season.

That is also quite a change from the start of the month, when Judge had a .207 average in March and April along with plenty of questions about the slow start.

While everyone else might have been worried, Judge maintained an even keel.

“Can’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself when things aren’t going right. Still have games to play and win. Just try to stay consistent and help the team win,” he said after Thursday night’s 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. “I feel like every season I have one of those months where things just aren’t going your way. It was tough that it had to be April in the beginning, especially with the type of team we have and how good we are.”

Judge has three homers in the past two nights to become the first Yankees player ever with at least 14 home runs and 12 doubles in a calendar month. His 26 extra-base hits in May are tied for the third most ever by a Yankees player, trailing only legends Joe DiMaggio (31 in July 1937) and Lou Gehrig (29 in July 1930).

Judge’s 26 extra-base hits this month mark just the eighth time that has happened since the end of World War II.

“The fact that we’re in May and all the questions about the slow start and you look up there with the season he is having, just a special player doing special things,” manager Aaron Boone said of Judge on Thursday night.

The Northern California native and former Fresno State standout, who also leads the majors in slugging (.617) and OPS (1.020), said he is excited about playing in San Francisco for the first time.

Judge was heavily recruited by the Giants in December 2022, when he was a free agent, but decided to remain with the Yankees, signing a nine-year, $360 million contract.

There were some tense moments for the Yankees during that process, including an incorrect tweet saying that “Arson Judge” was close to signing with San Francisco. Boone said he heard about that tweet when he got out of the shower at the winter meetings and had an uncomfortable stretch before Judge agreed the following morning to the deal to stay in New York.

“It wasn’t a high time for sure, but it turned the next morning,” Boone said before the Yankees played the Giants on Friday night. “It was an uneasy 24, 30 hours for me, just the uncertainty and the unknown. Once an hour went off the clock after that tweet and I was like, I don’t think that’s true. But we are not hearing anything in our way or anything. It was an uneasy time for sure. And then waking up literally the next morning to texts and stuff from friends that he was back with us was obviously a good wakeup call.”

The Yankees last trip to San Francisco was in 2019, but Judge missed that April series due to an oblique injury. He was loudly booed before his at-bats Friday night but showed the Giants fans what they missed out on getting.

New York comes in an AL-best 39-19 and with wins in four of the six games on their road trip.

“I’ll have a lot of family, a lot of friends. That’ll be fine,” he said. “I’m excited. I missed a chance to play there in ’19 and excited to get a chance to play a couple games there.”


AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in San Francisco contributed to this report


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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The Associated Press