Aaron Judge smashes hit way to Home Run Derby ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aaron Judge hit the glass be­hind left field that sup­ports the re­tractable roof at Mar­lins Park. He drove balls over the Red Grooms home run sculp­ture in left-cen­ter, over the bat­ter’s eye in cen­ter and - un­usu­ally for a Home Run Derby, to the op­po­site field, too.

He even hit the roof. The larger-than-life New York Yan­kees slug­ger dom­i­nated the All-Star Home Run Derby in the same man­ner he has smashed his way through his rookie sea­son, beat­ing Min­nesota’s Miguel Sano 11-10 with two min­utes to spare in the fi­nal on Mon­day night.

“It was a blast. I en­joyed ev­ery minute of it - watch­ing the other guys swing, com­ing here early and talk­ing to the me­dia,” Judge said. “Every­thing about to­day was fan­tas­tic.” Five years ago, Judge won the col­lege home run derby in Omaha, Ne­braska. This time, he out­slugged some of baseball’s top stars, in­clud­ing lo­cal fa­vorites Gian­carlo Stan­ton and Justin Bour of the Mi­ami Mar­lins. “A lot more fans,” Judge said. “Your adren­a­line is pump­ing, you’re ner­vous, you’re ex­cited. But this was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.” Judge, 6-foot-7 (2.01-me­ters) and 282 pounds (128 kilo­grams), hit 47 home runs in the derby that to­taled 3.9 miles. His long­est drive of the night went 513 feet, and he topped 500 four times.

“I thought I had seen it all be­fore. He didn’t even look like he was get­ting tired,” said Seat­tle’s Robin­son Cano, the 2011 Derby win­ner. “He was go­ing op­po­site field. He was late on the ball and he was putting the ball in the up­per deck.”

Judge had no trou­ble hit­ting the roof, thought to be pre­vi­ously un­touched by bat­ted ball. That drive didn’t count. “I got it in BP, too, ear­lier. So I wasn’t too sur­prised by that,” Judge said. Hit­ting sec­ond each time, Judge knocked out Bour 23-22 in the first round and beat Los An­ge­les Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger 13-12 in the sec­ond. Then, with light­ning vis­i­ble be­hind the huge glass door, he hit a 458-foot drive above the bat­ter’s eye for the ti­tle.

“That guy Aaron Judge, he doesn’t get tired,” Sano said. Many of the All-Stars sat in foul ter­ri­tory, some with their kids. “I had never seen him in per­son. He’s re­ally im­pres­sive,” said Colorado’s Char­lie Black­mon, who was elim­i­nated in the first round. “The first time I saw him, he was in a crowd. I was won­der­ing what he was stand­ing on. He’s a mon­ster.”

Judge leads the ma­jor leagues with 30 home runs, and some Yan­kees fans showed up to sup­port him in their full dress - flow­ing black robes and white pow­dered wigs. Booed ini­tially by the crowd of 37,027, Judge earned cheers once Stan­ton, the de­fend­ing cham­pion, and Bour were elim­i­nated in the first round.

Judge has hit the long­est home run in the reg­u­lar sea­son this year in the ma­jors 495 feet. He broke a TV mon­i­tor at Yan­kee Sta­dium with a BP drive that went over the cen­ter-field bleach­ers in May and dented a door cas­ing with a home run last week.

In yes­ter­day night’s game, he’s set to bat third for the Amer­i­can League. Sano beat Kansas City’s Mike Mous­takas 11-10 in the open­ing round, and the Yan­kees’ Gary

Sanchez topped Stan­ton 17-16. Stan­ton, who got home at about 5 a.m. af­ter a game in San Fran­cisco, started slowly against pitcher Pat Shine, hit­ting three lin­ers be­fore a 429-foot drive to cen­ter. Stan­ton be­gan to find his grove and hit a 496-foot shot off the glass be­hind the left-field seats, then started spray­ing im­pres­sive drives. He had 15 when his 30-sec­ond bonus road started but added just one more. The crowd groaned when his last fell short.

“It just didn’t work out as we had planned,” Shine said. Bellinger, hit­ting off his dad, for­mer big lea­guer Clay Bellinger, earned bonus time as four min­utes ex­pired with his 13th drive, into the right-field up­per deck, then with five sec­onds re­main­ing knocked out Black­mon 15-14.

Hit­ting with­out bat­ting gloves, Bour ex­cited fans with 22 homers . Judge, hit­ting against his reg­u­lar BP pitcher, Danilo Valiente, had 22 through four min­utes, ac­cord­ing to the scoreboard, and when he hit one in bonus time he walked away. But scoreboard re­verted to 22 - ap­par­ently the roof shot was sub­tracted - and Judge added an­other with a few sec­onds left. “I thought I had 23 al­ready, but I guess I tied him,” he said. “I re­ally didn’t have any wor­ries.” Seem­ing tired, Sanchez opened the sec­ond round with 10 and Sano needed just 3:10 to hit 11, the long­est at 491 feet. In a matchup of the lead­ing can­di­dates for rook­ies of the year, Bellinger hit 12 and Judge topped him with a minute to spare, in­clud­ing a 513-foot shot high off the win­dow, a drive that left his bat at 119 mph and rose 143 feet. “I had no pres­sure go­ing into it,” Judge said. “I’m a rookie. This is my first time do­ing it. For me, I got no ex­pec­ta­tions. I’m just go­ing to go in there and have some fun.”— AP

MI­AMI: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yan­kees com­petes in the fi­nal round of the T-Mo­bile Home Run Derby at Mar­lins Park on Mon­day in Mi­ami, Florida. — AFP

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