Austin, Judge homer in 1st big league at-bats as Yanks win
NEW YORK >> In the first at-bat of his major league debut, Tyler Austin sliced a 2-2 fastball from Matt Andriese to the opposite field. The arcing drive landed 331 feet from home plate in the first row over the short porch in right, about 3 feet fair, and rebounded onto the field.
"I was ecstatic on deck. I was, 'Oh, man, I've just got to make contact now,"' said Aaron Judge, about to hit in the big leagues for the first time.
Just 114 seconds later, Judge rocketed a changeup that clanked off the railing above the center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park, becoming just the third player to homer over the batter's eye at new Yankee Stadium.
Teammates had never before homered in their first major league at-bats in the same game.
Now New York's 24-year-old newbies had done it back-to-back, in a five-pitch span of the second inning.
Baby Bombers indeed!
"That thing was a hit a ton," an awe-struck Austin said Saturday an 8-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
On a humid, 95-degree afternoon and on the same day Alex Rodriguez was officially released, the future came fast for the Yankees.
And it arrived on, coincidentally, a special occasion. Highlighting the generational change, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams were at Yankee Stadium for a 20th anniversary celebration of the 1996 World Series championship team, the start of a dynasty that would win four titles in five years.
"I was too nervous to be even think about going to talk to anybody," Austin said.
Only once before had two players homered in the first at-bat of their debuts in the same game, and they were on opposing teams: Brooklyn's Ernie Koy and the Phillies' Heinie Mueller in the first inning at Philadelphia's Baker Bowl on April 19, 1938.
Judge-Austin seemed to be the Bleacher Creatures' new favorites, not some jurisprudence reference.
Each went 2 for 4, Austin using a bat with a lime-colored grip and Judge swinging black lumber. Austin, wearing No. 26, also swiped a base. Judge, in uniform No. 99, looked like Paul Bunyan at a burly 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds.
"We brought up some big boys," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Tyler Austin's probably 225, 230 pounds, and he looks tiny next to Aaron Judge."
Called up before the game as part of a youth movement that led to Rodriguez's release, Austin batted seventh and Judge eighth.
Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer in the fifth for a 6-3 lead, and Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius — batting cleanup for the first time in his big league career — also went deep. The Yankees (60-56), whose homers all came from players 26 and under, won their fourth straight and matched their season high of four games over .500.
Brad Miller homered twice for Tampa Bay, a three-run drive and a solo shot off Masahiro Tanaka (9-4). Andriese (6-4) took the loss.
New York started a pair of players making their big league debuts for the first time since center fielder Jim Lyttle and catcher John Ellis against the California Angels on May 17, 1969.
Judge had just ordered a postgame midnight meal with his parents in Rochester when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Al Pedrique walked up to his table at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and told him about the call-up. So after a bacon cheeseburger, macaroni and cheese and beans, the first baseman drove through the night with mom and dad, arriving at a Parsippany, New Jersey, hotel around 6 a.m.
Austin had gotten his news earlier Friday. When his flight was canceled, the Yankees sent a car service to take him on the 5-hour drive.
The two newcomers joined 23-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez, hitting .313 (10 for 32) with three doubles, a home run and four RBIs since he was brought up Aug. 3.
Judge will be the regular right fielder. Austin will share time at first with Mark Teixeira and also DH, then compete with Greg Bird for the first-base job at spring training.
General manager Brian Cashman planned to bring up Austin and added Judge once it became clear outfielder Brett Gardner will be sidelined for several days after getting hit by a pitch above the right ankle Friday night.
"I figured Judge, being his first call-up, he's not going to sleep anyway," Cashman said. "Thank God he's young, because if that was me, I would be a zombie right now."
Austin, who also plays corner outfield and third base, overcame testicular cancer surgery at age 17 and was a 13th-round draft pick in 2010. His career slowed after a wrist injury and he was designated for assignment last Sept. 1, giving other teams a chance to claim him off waivers.
He remained with the Yankees and after playing in the Arizona Fall League and Venezuelan Winter League, he started this year at Double-A Trenton and blossomed after he was promoted to Triple-A on June 4.
"The old man, I like to see them do good," said Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, a Yankees adviser who has followed prospects around the minors. "You fall in love with the kids."
Yankees: Gardner said X-rays were negative.
RHP Luis Severino (1-7) starts the series finale for the Yankees on Sunday, when Rivera's plaque in Monument Park is unveiled. RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-5) pitches for the Rays.
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