Aaron Judge’s wrist got a big hand.
The reigning AL Rookie of the Year returned to right field for the first time since his right wrist was broken seven weeks ago, and the crowd of 40,138 at Yankee Stadium greeted him with a pair of standing ovations before the eighth inning of New York’s 11-0 romp over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
“Pretty crazy,” Judge said.
Masahiro Tanaka (12-5), bidding to start a likely wild-card game against Oakland, extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings and won his third straight start.
Toronto lost its fourth straight game and at 65-82 ensured consecutive losing seasons for first time since 2012-13.
“We’re in a rebuild mode now, so you’re going to take your lumps,” manager John Gibbons said.
Watch as the Yankees blank Toronto:
Judge, who did not have a chance in his two innings, is limited to defence and baserunning for now. Manager Aaron Boone said Judge could return as a fulltime player during this final homestand, which ends Sept. 23.
‘I was nervous out there’
“I was nervous out there just standing in the outfield,” Judge said. “Just getting those jitters out of the way now, it’s good. So when I get that first at-bat, it’ll be like I never left.”
Judge had not played since July 26, when he was hit by a pitch from Kansas City’s Jakob Junis. Judge said the wrist still has pain and won’t heal fully until the off-season.
Judge high-fived a member of the grounds crew as fans applauded when he ran onto the field and another a minute later when he was introduced by public address announcer Paul Olden. Judge ran to the base of the right-field wall after his warmup tosses — just in front of the Judge’s Chambers. He handed the ball to a woman in the first row who passed it to a widely smiling girl next to her.
“You could feel the buzz there,” Boone said.
Before the ninth, Judge tossed his warmup ball into the upper deck. New York originally projected he would sidelined by the injury for three weeks, but pain lingered and he missed 45 games.
The tall, gregarious sophomore likely will have a simulated game next week before he bats in a real one.
“In the dugout, just having him there and his presence being there, is felt throughout the whole team,” Andrew McCutchen said,
McCutchen hit his third home run since the Yankees acquired him from San Francisco on Aug. 31 for outfield depth, a move that allowed Giancarlo Stanton to be mostly a designated hitter. McCutchen doubled leading off the first and scored New York’s first run and also singled and walked twice. To make room for Judge, McCutchen shifted to left for the first time since 2009 at Triple-A.
“I finally got to watch him and Stanton take batting practice, and I saw some pretty impressive stuff,” McCutchen said. “I know the people who have been here all year, to them it’s probably normal. It’s not normal.”
New York improved to 13-4 against Toronto this season and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics for home field in the wild-card game on Oct. 3. Dominating with a sharp splitter, Tanaka struck out eight in six innings and allowed four hits. Luis Severino and J.A. Happ also are possible starters against the A’a.
“How they’re pitching in the final two weeks certainly matters,” Boone said. “We also take into account who we’re playing, where we’re playing.”
Luke Voit hit a two-run double that capped a five-run first inning against Marco Estrada (7-12), who tied a career worst by allowing eight runs and lasted just 2 2/3 innings. Didi Gregorius added his 24th homer, one shy of his career high.