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Judge's gargantuan blast stuns home crowd in Giants' loss to Yankees

Judge's gargantuan blast stuns home crowd in Giants' loss to Yankees originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Aaron Judge had to have known the question was coming. Nearly two minutes went by before the New York Yankees’ gargantuan superstar did his best in hiding his excitement behind a globally-known sincere smile.

Were you aiming for the Coke bottle?

“I was not,” Judge said after an audible chuckle he couldn’t contain. “I was just trying to make contact, man. Yeah, it’s deep out there. It’s deep out there, so I was just happy it went over the fence and we were able to go up two runs.”

As Yankees fans have taken over Oracle Park through the first two contests of the Giants’ three-game series against New York, Judge provided ample torture to the home crowd Friday night with his two-home run performance to cap off a historic May. His first at-bat of June was a towering entrance into a new month, launching a blast rarely seen here in the Giants’ 7-3 loss Saturday night.

Giants ace Logan Webb gave Judge everything he had before the former AL MVP -- who’s leading the majors in nearly every power-hitting category this season -- won the battle yet again. Two sweepers, three sinkers and three changeups weren’t enough to get the job done.

On the ninth pitch Judge saw in the first inning, and the fourth changeup Webb tried to beat him with, the slugger smacked an off-speed pitch that caught far too much of the plate deep into the left-field bleachers.

While the ball kept carrying and carrying and carrying before a sunny San Francisco night turned cold, it was easy to wonder: Was Judge really about to go where no batter at this ballpark has gone before? No, but it sure felt like it for a little bit there.

The famed 501-foot sign near the enormous glove in left-center field adjacent to the Coke bottle is no longer there. Aiming for it or not, Judge had two targets he couldn’t miss from the batter’s box. And he nearly made it to uncharted territory.

Judge’s two-run shot in the first inning to give the Yankees the exact cushion required off Webb traveled 464 feet and had an exit velocity of 115.7 mph.

Somehow that was his third-longest homer this season alone, despite it being the sixth-farthest hit ball and sixth-hardest hit ball at the park in the Statcast era since 2015.

“I knew he devoured it right away,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s just one of those ones like ‘Ohh!’ Just a great at-bat. Yeah, the result was special but that’s a battle between a really good pitcher and obviously a great hitter.”

Giancarlo Stanton – who has hammered many moonshots himself and hit a two-run homer down the left-field line in the eighth inning – added: “It was going. It was like 20 or 30 rows up so it was close.”

Judge’s big fly brought back memories of Andres Galarraga almost 23 years later. Galarraga in his first of two stints with San Francisco cleared the bleachers in 2001, landing a solo shot as close as anyone has come to the Coke bottle.

In his first 10 innings playing for the first time at Oracle Park, Judge, a Northern California native who grew up a Giants fan two hours from the ballpark, had hit 1,284 feet of home runs. But it’s his teammate, not him, who Judge believes has the best chance of ever crushing a ball hard enough to climb all the way to the Coke bottle or glove that’s impossible to miss.

“Stanton,” Judge said. “I think that’s the only one I got. Even in BP today in his first round, his fourth swing, he hit one like halfway up the bleachers and I was like, ‘You’re just warming up, huh?’

“He’s on top of my list.”

Family and friends have come in droves to watch Judge play his hometown team. No matter how many tickets he put aside for them, the atmosphere has felt like thousands more joined the party through two games. Whether it’s Boone or his teammates, the Yankees aren’t downplaying how much these three games mean to Judge.

No hard feelings, though. At least according to Judge.

“I love the Giants,” Judge said. “It’s not personal. I got a job to do every team we play.”

Being romantic about baseball is one thing. What Judge has done in going 5-for-7 with three home runs and six RBI thus far is a definition of love that Giants fans want no part of, no matter how badly they wish he were wearing their colors as opposed to those of the Bronx Bombers, rounding the bases and smiling through it all.

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