MIAMI – 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, who stands 201 cm and weighs 128 kg, hit 47 home runs in the derby that totaled 6.2 km. His longest drive of the night went 156.3 meters , and he topped 152 meters (500 feet) 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.
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 139.5-meter drive above the batter’s eye for the title.
Meanwhile, Chris Sale will become the first pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts representing different teams.
The Boston Red Sox ace will start Tuesday night’s game for the American League, and Washington’s Max Scherzer will open for the National League.
Then with the Chicago White Sox, Sale pitched the first inning of last year’s game at San Diego and allowed a two-out home run to Kris Bryant. Sale was traded in December for top prospects.
Sale will be the 16th pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts, the first since Arizona’s Randy Johnson in 2000-01 and the first in the AL since Toronto’s Dave Stieb in 1983-84. Born in Lakeland, which is about 385 km northwest of Miami, Sale is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA and a major league-leading 178 strikeouts in 127⅔ innings.
Scherzer also will be making his second All-Star start. Then with Detroit, he pitched a perfect inning at New York’s Citi Field in 2013, when Sale followed with a pair of 1-2-3 innings and got the win. Scherzer will be the fifth pitcher to start All-Star Games for both leagues, following Vida Blue, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay and Johnson. Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.10 ERA and 173 strikeouts.
NL manager Joe Maddon’s batting order has Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon leading off, followed by Stanton as the designated hitter. Washington right fielder Bryce Harper is third, followed by San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, Washington second baseman Daniel Murphy, Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado, Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Miami left fielder Marcell Ozuna and Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart.
AL manager Brad Mills hits Houston second baseman Jose Altuve leadoff, followed by Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez, Judge in right, Houston’s George Springer in left, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak, Tampa Bay designated hitter Corey Dickerson, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and Boston’s Mookie Betts in center.