As the ball hung in the air, it was reminiscent of two memorable World Series home runs — Carlton Fisk’s game-winning drive down the line in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series and the game-tying homer that Cleveland’s Rajai Davis hit off Chapman for the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the Series last fall.
“I think everybody pulling for the Yankees was going, ‘Oh, no!’” left fielder Brett Gardner said. “I was concerned about it for a second.”
But the ball drifted just foul, landing in the upper deck that abuts the line. Chapman then ended the drama by throwing a fastball past Rutledge on the next pitch.
“It’s never easy here, and we know that,” said Manager Joe Girardi, who had to fight off flashbacks to last September, when Hanley Ramirez hit a game-ending homer off Dellin Betances, kicking off a four-game sweep that all but knocked the Yankees out of the playoff race.
If this rich rivalry is entering a new phase after the retirements of Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, two sluggers who took their outsize personalities with them, the Yankees and the Red Sox have plenty of candidates ready to step into central roles.
It was Judge’s turn on Wednesday. A 6-foot-7, 275-pound right fielder, Judge is quickly turning last season’s sketchy cameo, when he struck out in half his at-bats, into a distant memory. He has now hit seven home runs and leads the Yankees with 15 R.B.I., and his .672 slugging percentage is second in the American League to Mike Trout.
Judge has made his mark with prodigious power, blasting a 459-foot homer on Saturday in Pittsburgh — one of three home runs he has hit this season that have exceeded 435 feet — but there is more to his game than that. He has made several excellent catches in the outfield and showed strong instincts and good hustle on the bases.
If some young players might be seduced by lure of the Green Monster, Judge showed restraint, taking a fastball that was low and away and driving it into the Yankees’ bullpen in right field. The home run, with Starlin Castro aboard after an error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts, put the Yankees ahead, 2-0.
Judge scored the Yankees’ final run in the sixth, drawing a two-out walk from Porcello after falling behind, 0-2. Judge advanced to second on a wild pitch and hustled home on Greg Bird’s line single. The hit was an especially welcome one for Bird, who had only one in his previous 21 at-bats and was 5 for 50 on the season.
But Judge’s most eye-catching play came in the field. Bogaerts lifted a fly ball down the right-field line in the third, and Judge went barreling toward the low wall that hugs the line. He slowed only at the last instant, reaching over the wall to catch the ball and then tumbling into the stands. The row that he plunged into was vacant — a fortunate byproduct of the miserable weather conditions.
“Honestly, I didn’t really think about it,” Judge said. “I just saw a ball I could get to and tried to do anything I could do to catch it. But once I fell into the stands, I didn’t really know what to do. Do I throw it from here? Do I have to step back on to the field?”
Judge, on his back and partially out of view, flipped the ball to Castro as Boston’s Marco Hernandez tagged up and advanced to third. The first-base umpire Mark Carlson initially ruled that Judge had not caught the ball, but the Yankees challenged the call and a replay review confirmed the catch.
It was an unnerving moment for Manager Joe Girardi.
“I was very concerned,” Girardi said. “I saw him get up — I felt better about it. But still I was a little bit concerned. It’s an important game, and he risked his body. He plays hard. You want your players to play hard, and you hope situations like this they don’t get hurt.”
Asked if he had tumbled over a wall like that before, Judge said he had.
“But never at Fenway Park,” he added.
For many young players like Judge, a first trip to Fenway Park can be jarring. Severino said recently that he did not like pitching there. Fenway is unlike contemporary stadiums. Even the ones that are nostalgically modeled after old ballparks are built much higher, with upper decks that are usually stacked upon a layer of suites. Fenway, with its fabled left-field wall, is intimate and feels as if it is a step back in time.
“Everything is closer here,” said Bird, who played his first game at Fenway late in the 2015 season and compared the ballpark to the aging ones in the Class A South Atlantic League. “The newer stadiums are big and open. People get on you here, good and bad. You can feel it. It’s something unique.”
Judge had been to Fenway once before — as a college sophomore in the summer of 2012, when he briefly worked out there with the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League.
“We were in such a rush,” Judge said. “You couldn’t take a pitch in batting practice — we were swinging at everything. But I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Judge also enjoyed his visit Wednesday. His home-run ball was retrieved as a memento, and he will probably have a few bruises as reminders of his catch. All that, and the Yankees managed to win.
Asked if he had ever had a more memorable birthday, Judge smiled.
“Maybe 26 might be better,” he said. “I don’t know.”
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