BOSTON (AP) — Aaron Judge came running across Fenway Park’s right field grass, making his 6-foot-7 frame look a linebacker going for a tackle as he tumbled into the right-field stands to make a catch.
It was a highlight that he’ll be able show at future birthday parties.
Judge celebrated his 25th birthday with a two-run homer and the spectacular catch, and Luis Severino pitched seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball to carry the surging New York Yankees to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night in the longtime rivals’ first meeting this season.
“I really didn’t feel too much,” Judge said of landing on an empty seat. “My adrenaline was pumping. I was trying to make a play.”
Asked if he’d ever tumbled over before to make a catch, Judge smiled and said: “I have before but never at Fenway Park. That was a first.”
In the third, the right fielder made his running grab of a foul ball that carried him, flipping over head first, beyond a short wall into the seats. He came up showing the ball with his bare hand and it was originally ruled “no catch” by first base umpire Mark Carlson, but was overturned after a challenge.
“It’s his birthday, so it didn’t seem to ruin the day,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.
He had homered into the Yankees’ bullpen an inning earlier.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Judge became the first Yankee to homer on his birthday at Fenway Park since Roger Maris did it on Sept. 10, 1966. Hall of Famer Yogi Berra is the only other to do it, on May 12, 1947.
“One pitch where Judge pulls his hands inside a fastball and hits it out of the ball park,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
It was the 11th win in 14 games for the Yankees after they opened the season 1-4.
Severino (2-1) struck out six and walked two, posting his third straight strong start. In his previous two, the 23-year-old righty became just the third Yankee ever to post double-digit strikeouts without more than one walk in consecutive games.
Reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-3) lost his third straight start, giving up three runs – two earned – in 6 2/3 innings. He didn’t lose consecutive starts last season.
Dellin Betances worked a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman got the final three outs for his fifth save despite giving up a run.
“It was a fastball, middle in,” Porcello said of Judge’s homer. “He put a good swing on it. Other than that, really, I felt pretty good.”
Fog rolled in during the middle innings after both teams didn’t have batting practice on the field because of steady rain, probably causing a rare non-sellout in a game between the teams in Boston.
Yankees: Girardi said SS Didi Gregorius is close to returning. “We’ll see him sometime in the next series” he said. Gregorius continues to recover from a strained right shoulder while playing at Class A Tampa. He went 2 for 4 and played the entire game at short Wednesday.
Red Sox: Farrell said 2B Dustin Pedroia still had some “lingering soreness” and he “didn’t want to risk him losing his footing on the wet ground.” Pedroia missed his third straight game after Orioles 3B Manny Machado slid into the back of his left leg. … The manager also said that “the symptoms that caused the onset of the vertigo, seemed to have cleared up” for utility infielder Brock Holt.
WOW, THAT’S NEAT
In the last nine seasons, the teams faced each other 166 times and were 83-83. Even more interesting, they were 41-41 at Fenway and 42-42 at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 6.00 ERA) is set to start Thursday’s series finale. He won his last two starts, going a season-high seven innings while giving up just one run in the last one.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 0.91) is scheduled to bring his lofty career numbers against the Yankees to the mound. The lefty is 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA against them, the lowest ERA by any pitcher versus the Yankees with at least 50 innings since earned runs became a stat in 1912.
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