SEATTLE — The consensus was that any projections on the latest mammoth shot off the bat of Aaron Judge far underestimated the actual distance.
An approximation of 440 feet did seem a little off when the ball nearly left the stadium.
“A little short,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Judge hit a colossal three-run homer that nearly soared out of Safeco Field, and CC Sabathia won on his 37th birthday as New York beat the Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Friday night.
Judge’s 31st home run in the fifth inning was memorable and nearly historic . The big slugger clobbered a hanging curveball from starter Andrew Moore (1-2) into the second deck in left field, with the ball landing three rows from the top of the stadium. No one has hit one out of Safeco during a game since the ballpark opened midway through the 1999 season.
Judge came close and continued to emerge from a post-All-Star break slump thanks to his first home run since July 7. He finished with four RBIs, including a sacrifice fly that gave New York a 2-1 lead.
“I was just glad to be in that position,” Judge said. “Guys were getting on base all night for me and in that situation I was trying to get something up in the air and score the run.”
Judge downplayed any reaction to the long ball, but his teammates were more than willing to take up the cause of where the homer ranked among the longest they’ve seen. MLB Statcast could not get an accurate read on the distance, leaving the Mariners staff to estimate a 440-foot shot based off previous home runs near that area.
But few balls at Safeco Field have ever come as close to leaving the place.
“I think every time it’s a different reaction. You think people would get bored seeing him hit a ball that far, but he surprises everybody every time he goes out there and hits a ball in a spot where no one else can,” Yankees rookie outfielder Clint Frazier said.
Judge’s long homer left fans buzzing and there were more than a smattering of boos when he was walked on a 3-2 pitch by reliever Emilio Pagan in the seventh. Moore got the better of the slugger with a three-pitch strikeout in the first and got Judge to fly out to deep center field his next at-bat.
Moore’s mistake was falling behind in the count and leaving his breaking ball elevated. Judge’s uppercut swing was on a perfect path and the ball quickly found its way deep into the seats.
“I thought I commanded the fastball pretty well, the curveball had some life, just that curveball got a little bit away, and he does damage on pitches like that,” Moore said. “That’s what he does well. But, yeah, I’d definitely like to have that one back.”
Frazier added an RBI double as the Yankees won for the third time in four games. He also made a diving catch in the second inning that saved a run.
Sabathia (9-3) allowed one run but lasted only one batter into the sixth due to a pitch count that became inflated in the early innings. Seattle sent seven batters to the plate in the first but left the bases loaded and managed just one run on Kyle Seager’s infield hit. Seattle also had traffic on the bases in the second and third, but Sabathia avoided any damage.
The left-hander retired eight straight before walking Seager to open the sixth.
“Tonight wasn’t my best stuff, but I was confident in these guys to score runs and the bullpen picked me up,” Sabathia said.
The newest addition to New York’s bullpen was dominant. David Robertson struck out the side in an impressive inning, his first appearance since being reacquired from the White Sox in a trade. Dellin Betances had a shaky eighth while allowing two hits but no runs.
After knocking around Sabathia early but managing only one run, Seattle’s bats went silent. The Mariners went hitless between Ben Gamel’s leadoff double in the second inning and Robinson Cano’s leadoff double in the eighth.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma is continuing with his throwing program but there is no set time on when he might get back on the mound. Iwakuma has been out since early May with shoulder inflammation.
“He’s been playing catch consistently. Once he gets out to about 150 feet, then we can get him on the mound and throw a bullpen,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s not there yet, but he is feeling better, pain-free, which are all good signs.”
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) has won two of his last four starts after a miserable stretch with six losses in eight outings. Tanaka threw 7 2/3 innings and allowed three runs in his last start against Boston.
Mariners: Ariel Miranda (7-4) will make his team-high 20th start of the season. Miranda went 5 2/3 innings in his last start against Houston and got a no-decision. His last win was on June 30.