MIAMI — Aaron Judge may wind up capturing an MVP award in 2017.
It just won’t be for his performance in his first career All-Star Game.
A day after winning the Home Run Derby in spectacular fashion, Judge went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, ground out and fly out in the Midsummer Classic at Marlins Park. “He’s probably exhausted from all those home runs he hit,” Dellin Betances said.
Said Judge: “I was a little sore and tired from the Derby, but I was just running on adrenaline. This was an awesome experience. The goal was to have fun and compete, and that’s what happened. What a couple days.”
Rob Manfred was so impressed with Judge’s season so far that the MLB commissioner sees much bigger things in store for the 6-foot-7, 282-pound slugging sensation. Move over Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw.
“He’s been absolutely phenomenal,” said Manfred, who added that Judge is “the kind of player that can become the face of the game.”
Judge responded: “It’s pretty cool. But it’s not my job to worry about that. I’ve got a job to do on the field, and I feel like that other stuff will take care of itself.”
The American League defeated the National League 2-1 in extras thanks to the contributions of a couple ex-Yankees. Robinson Cano, who was named All-Star Game MVP, delivered the go-ahead solo shot in the 10th while Andrew Miller recorded the final three outs.
Judge — the Yankees’ 25-year-old power-hitting star in the making — became just the third rookie to start and bat third in an All-Star game, joining Joe DiMaggio (1936) and Dick Williams (1943). Judge played four innings in the field for the AL before being replaced by Justin Upton in the fifth.
Judge, who leads the majors with 30 homers, will head into the second half of the season as the favorite to capture both AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP honors. It’s simply remarkable, given that he survived being sent down to Triple-A Scranton after barely winning the everyday job in right out of spring training.
Judge certainly knew what to expect coming in on Tuesday night: a lot of heat. “Pitchers aren’t going to be lobbing it in there,” Judge said. “I just want to go out there, try to have fun and make contact. I’m competing against the best of the best.”
Judge struck out in his first at-bat against Max Scherzer, a two-time Cy Young award winner in the first inning. He got down 0-2 and then worked the count full before fanning on a nasty 88-mph slider. “He’s a bulldog out there on the mound,” Judge said of Scherzer. “He’s a competitor.”
Carlos Martinez got Judge to ground out to shortstop on a 99.2 mph fastball in his second at-bat in the third And Alex Wood got Judge to fly out to center field on an 84-mph changeup in his third and final at-bat in the fifth. He just missed that outside off-speed pitch, getting it off the end of his bat.
“It happens. They’re all All-Stars,” Judge said. “They’re going to fool you every now and then.”
Judge received loud cheers upon his pregame introduction in the starting lineup. His favorite part of the All-Star experience: meeting all of the best players in the game.
“They’re just regular guys that are really, really good at baseball,” Judge said.
Betances — making his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance — was shaky during the third inning, but managed to strand the bases loaded.
Betances struck out Charlie Blackmon and Giancarlo Stanton, but also allowed a single, two walks and threw two wild pitches, becoming just the fourth pitcher in All-Star history to uncork two wild pitches in the same frame. He registered as high as 99.7 mph on the radar gun, and got Daniel Murphy to ground out to third to end the threat.
“I feel like he’s a guy you can go up there and just take,” Bryce Harper, who drew one of those free passes, was caught saying on FOX’s microphone while at first base. “He’ll walk you.”
“With Bryce Harper, he put up a good AB. It started off 0-2, and I lost him there. I couldn’t get him to chase,” Betances said. “And then I felt like I got a little out of whack with the next guy (walking Buster Posey) and then I was able to settle down.”
The 29-year-old setup man registered a 14.29 ERA with 12 walks in his last eight games of the first half after a sensational start.
Gary Sanchez, playing in his first All-Star Game, came in to catch in the sixth and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Luis Severino, who was selected to his first All-Star Game, did not pitch. “Maybe next time,” said Severino, who was the next man up but wasn’t needed.
Starlin Castro (hamstring) did not play. Castro is expected to play a pair of rehab games with Double-A Trenton on Thursday and Friday before hopefully rejoining the Yankees over the weekend in Boston.