The New York Yankees have largely been a disappointment in 2023. The team currently sits in fourth place in the American League East division with a 78-76 record and are seven games behind in the wild card race.
Superstar Aaron Judge is coming off a historic 2022 campaign, but the slugger has dealt with injury setbacks this year limiting him to 100 games so far. Judge gave the Yankees a reason to celebrate on Friday when he smashed three home runs during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The homers marked the second time this season that Judge has managed to hit three balls over the outfield wall this season — which set a Yankees record. "It’s incredible," Judge said after New York’s 7-1 victory. "You see the list of players that have come through here, the retired numbers out there, but I just tried to do my job."
Judge hit a three-run homer in the third and a two-run shot in the fifth off rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt. The star outfielder added his third homer of the night by reaching the second deck in right field with a solo drive off Slade Cecconi.
"Greatness doing special things," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Those are things that, kind of the crazy things that happen, but it’s just a special player. Not surprising that he’s on that list."
After rounding the bases, Judge took a curtain call from the Yankee Stadium crowd as teammate Gleyber Torres stepped out of the batter’s box.
"It was great," Judge said. "Anytime Yankee fans want to show some love and appreciation, I love it. It was a pretty cool moment right there." Only five other Yankees players have delivered multiple three-homer games.
Lou Gehrig, who also hit four homers in June 1926 at Philadelphia against the A's, leads the Yankees with four such games. Joe DiMaggio and Alex Rodríguez had three, and Tony Lazzeri and Bobby Murcer two apiece.
Judge's first career three-homer game happened last month. During an August 23 game against the Washington Nationals, Judge crushed three home runs to help lift New York to a 9-1 victory. The win also ended the Yankees' nine game losing streak.
Judge is hitting .267 with 35 homers and 70 RBIs in 100 games this season. He missed nearly eight weeks after spraining his right big toe on June 3 at Dodger Stadium. He returned to the lineup July 28.
"A lot of missed time, a lot of missed opportunities, that’s how I look at it," Judge said.
The five-time All-Star hit 62 home runs last season, breaking the previous American League record of 61 set by former Yankees slugger Roger Maris in 1961.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.