NEW YORK -- The American League's single-season home run king did not wait long to hit his first home run of 2023. Thursday afternoon New York Yankees slugger and reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge launched the second pitch of his first at-bat into Monument Park for a solo home run against San Francisco Giants righty Logan Webb (NY 5, SF 0).
"To set the tone for us like that, after the offseason and signing back, (being named) captain, for him to get us rolling was very fitting," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the game. "And that's about as tough a guy as you're going to do it against right-on-right. Webb's going to keep you in the ballpark."
Judge's home run is his first career Opening Day home run and the first home run of the 2023 baseball season league-wide. It also came against a Giants team that pursued him aggressive over the winter. Judge eventually returned to the Yankees on a massive nine year, $360 million contract.
Here is MLB's first home run of the new season:
Webb left a sinker up and out over the plate and Judge won't miss many of those. Webb, it should be noted, allowed just one home run in his final 10 starts last year. He is one of the game's great ground-ball pitchers and homer avoiders, but he made a mistake to the sport's preeminent power hitter, and you won't get the ball back too many times when you do that.
"I was just trying to make solid contact," Judge said of taking Webb deep. "Especially with a guy like Logan, got that nasty sinker-changeup mix. Lot of balls on the ground, lot of weak contact. Just trying to elevate a pitch and get it in the air best I could. I didn't expect that to happen. Try to swing at strikes."
Judge swatted 62 home runs last season, breaking Roger Maris' 61-year-old American League record. Maris, fittingly, went deep on Opening Day the year after his 61-homer season. He hit 33 that year. Judge did not go deep until his sixth game last season, and he hit just one home run in his first 13 games. It was a summer-long home run barrage after that.
This is the first time the Yankees and Giants have opened a regular season against each other. One way or the other, Judge -- pursued by San Francisco in free agency before re-signing with New York -- was going to play his first game of 2023 in Yankee Stadium. He is still in the familiar Yankees pinstripes, with familiar results at the plate.
"Anytime you come away with a win Opening Day kind of get things rolling that, it makes for a pretty special Opening Day," Judge said. "Fans were loud, great reception for everybody in the lineup."