New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge didn’t want any of his teammates to get injured in the scrum that followed Thursday’s walk-off win.
Turns out, the ex-Fresno State star was the one who had to worry. He wound up needing dental work, though it didn’t slow the rookie down at all in his pursuit of the 2017 American League home run title.
After Brett Gardner hit the third walk-off homer of his career in the 11th inning, propelling the Yankees to a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, the players – in typical boys being boys fashion – went wild while celebrating at home plate.
One problem: Gardner lost his helmet and it began rolling around at the feet of the players.
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Judge, not wanting to see anyone turn an ankle, picked it up. Gardner, however, accidentally knocked it out of Judge’s hand and into his face, chipping a tooth.
“I didn’t want anybody jumping and breaking an ankle,” said Judge, who smacked his 33rd home run of the season in Friday’s 6-1 victory over the Rays. “So I picked it up, and as everybody was jumping around, I think I hit it on someone’s back. It got me.”
Yankees security worked overtime Thursday looking around home plate for the missing piece.
“I tried to rush off the field before anyone would notice,” Judge said. “But there’s a lot of cameras around.”
On Friday morning, it was off to the dental office somewhere in New York. Then it was back to the ballpark for Game 2 of the four-game series.
Judge hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to move three up on Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas for the AL lead and into a tie for the majors lead with Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.
The AL East-leading Yankees won the game 6-1 as Masahiro Tanaka struck out 14, retiring the first 17 batters he faced before allowing Adeiny Hechavarria’s two-out single in the sixth.