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May 31, 2024 8:39 am

Yankees’ Aaron Judge takes aim at Giants in homecoming

Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge will get his first opportunity to take aim at Oracle Park’s signature old-time baseball glove above the left-field bleachers on Friday night when the New York Yankees visit the San Francisco Giants for the start of a three-game interleague series.

The Yankees wrapped up a second consecutive series win on their nine-game Western swing when they beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-3 on Thursday. The victory was New York’s 13th in its last 17 games.

The Yankees will face a Giants team coming off a 6-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, just the third defeat in San Francisco’s last 13 outings.

Judge contributed his 18th home run of the season to Thursday’s win; he has homered in five of his last eight games.

The 32-year-old native of Linden, Calif., a little less than 100 miles northeast of San Francisco, missed his 2019 homecoming because of a strained oblique.

The Yankees’ most recent visit to San Francisco had been in 2007, when Judge was a freshman at Linden High, where he modeled his stance after his favorite Giant — shortstop Rich Aurilia.

“It would have been nice to be able to play here,” Judge said during the 2019 visit. “Maybe in another eight years. We’ll see.”

He was off by three years, with those five seasons featuring only three games against the Giants, all at Yankee Stadium last season. Judge hit a home run in each win that sandwiched a three-hit performance in a 7-5 loss.

The Yankees’ visit this year comes shortly after Giants chairman of the board Greg Johnson blamed the team’s home ballpark for the club’s inability to sign superstar free agents such as Judge.

“Remember, our park is not viewed as one of the easy parks to hit home runs in. I think we’re the fifth-hardest park to hit home runs in Major League Baseball,” he said. “So that makes it a little more difficult to go out there and get the home-run hitter.”

The baseball-glove display at Oracle Park lies 501 feet from home plate. The only major leaguer to come close to hitting it was Vladimir Guerrero Sr. in the 2007 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game. Guerrero had the distance (503 feet) but was wide left.

The longest home run in stadium history during a game was a 499-footer by Barry Bonds. That went to center field.

Judge is expected to take his first cracks Friday at Giants starter Jordan Hicks (4-1, 2.33 ERA), who has allowed just four home runs in 11 starts, including three in 34 innings in Oracle Park appearances.

The 27-year-old has faced Judge just three times in his career, striking him out twice and getting him to pop out to second base.

Hicks will make his first lifetime start against the Yankees. In five previous relief appearances, he’s allowed just one hit in 5 2/3 innings, going 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA.

Judge has played big-league games in 33 other ballparks, including seven in Buffalo, three in Dunedin, two in London and one at the Iowa Field of Dreams. He’s played in two different Arlington ballparks, but never in San Francisco or Colorado.

Right-hander Marcus Stroman (4-2, 2.76 ERA) is slated to make his fifth career start in San Francisco on Friday, his first as a Yankee. He’s gone 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA in five lifetime starts against the Giants.

–Field Level Media

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