Aaron Judge entered Thursday healthy, after his feeling under the weather on the final day of spring training sent him through precautionary COVID-19 protocols.
But the Yankees right fielder finished Opening Day frustrated after coming up empty in two big chances to lift his team to a win in what became a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays.
“A lot of missed opportunities on my part,” Judge said after his 1-for-5 day at the plate.
Judge came up with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning of a 2-2 game. He worked a 2-1 count against former Yankee David Phelps, but then grounded into an inning-ending double play.
In the ninth inning, he had another chance to send the crowd into a craze as he walked to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second. Instead, Jordan Romero struck him out to send the game into extra innings.
“In the seventh, having the bases loaded one out, I just gotta get a ball in the air to give us the lead,” Judge said. “In the ninth, same thing. Guy’s in scoring position, hit something the other way, get it in the gap, watch the guys run. I wasn’t able to come through. I let the team down twice there.”
Judge was also left feeling like he could have done more in the field in the top of the 10th inning. With the Blue Jays starting with a man on second base, Randal Grichuk drilled a rocket that one-hopped the wall in right field. It then bounced over Judge’s head, ensuring the runner from second had plenty of time to score.
“I feel like I can get any ball — any ball off the bat, I feel like I got a chance at, to be honest,” Judge said. “I think my mistake is not knowing off the bat, if I can’t get there, play it off the wall and at least try to hold the runner at second base, maybe deke him, hold him at third base.”
As for his health, Judge said he knew it was better to report his symptoms — which general manager Brian Cashman attributed to allergies — instead of getting in one last Grapefruit League game.
“It’s crazy, any time you have any symptoms of anything, especially the last day of spring training when we’re about to travel, not too wise to not say anything,” Judge said. “Just spoke up with the team, let them know what was going on and they shut me down that last day, which I didn’t want. But I think for everybody’s safety, it was the best call.”