Judge: First ejection of career 'very surprising'

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NEW YORK — Aaron Judge has accomplished plenty during his nine-year major league career. The five-time All-Star set the American League record for home runs in a season in 2022. He won the AL MVP award. He was named the 16th captain in New York Yankees history.

And not once in his first 869 career games was the 32-year-old slugger ever ejected.

That streak, though, ended Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Judge was tossed for the first time leading off the seventh inning after arguing a called third strike in the Yankees’ eventual 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. Judge was displeased when plate umpire Ryan Blakney punched him out on a pitch he thought was outside for ball four. The outfielder had some words for Blakney as he walked away before turning around to go to the Yankees’ dugout. Blakney then threw him out of the game.

“Very surprising, especially in a 5-3 game, late in the game,” Judge said. “Battling a 3-2 count and kind of walking away saying my piece. I’ve said a lot worse. … I usually try not to make a scene in situations like that. So a little surprised [that] walking away that happened.”

Judge said there wasn’t any tension between him and Blakney leading up to that point. He ended his day 2-for-3 with a double. It was just his second multihit game since April 14, raising his batting average on the season to .209. Trent Grisham replaced him in center field.

“I got a lot of respect for Ryan and what he does,” Judge said. “I know their job is tough and I’ve always had their back because it’s tough back there. So, for it to happen that way, that’s what I’m most upset about. Especially late in a game like that, close game.”

Umpire crew chief Alan Porter told a pool reporter that Blakney hadn’t yet told him what Judge said to warrant the ejection.

“Apparently, Aaron did not agree with the pitch and said something that you shouldn’t have said, and he was ejected,” Porter said. “We do what we can to keep guys in the game, but he said something he shouldn’t have said.”

Judge said he had never been ejected at any level in his baseball life — from little league through high school, college and the pros. It was the first time a Yankees captain was ejected from a game since Don Mattingly in May 1994.

“I didn’t even see myself get tossed,” Judge said. “It was a crowd reaction I heard, so I kind of assumed at that point.”

Though surprising to the Yankees, Judge’s ejection isn’t the team’s most controversial this season. Manager Aaron Boone was tossed five pitches into a game on April 23 for words that appeared to have come from a fan behind the dugout.

On Saturday, Boone, whose 35 ejections since 2018 are the most among managers, defended his star.

“I was surprised,” Boone said. “Judgy says very little usually. Very respectfully, walking away. Come on, man.”

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