We’ll never know for sure how things would have looked if Aaron Judge had taken a different route on that fateful June fly ball, a play that sent the reigning American League MVP to the injured list while changing the course of the Yankees’ season.

It’s a safe bet that Judge and the Yankees would have had a few more special nights like this one to celebrate. Judge slammed three home runs Friday evening in the 7-1 win over the D-backs at Yankee Stadium, receiving a curtain call after becoming the first player in franchise history to collect a pair of three-homer games in a season.

“It was great,” Judge said. “Anytime Yankees fans want to show some love and show some appreciation, I love it. That was a pretty cool moment right there.”

Judge hit a three-run homer in the third inning and a two-run shot in the fifth off D-backs starter Brandon Pfaadt, then added a solo blast in the seventh off Slade Cecconi. Judge also doubled in the first inning, and all three of Judge’s homers were opposite-field shots to right or right-center field.

“You’re watching a great player. That’s greatness,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s just different than everyone else.”

The performance came nearly one month to the day of Judge’s first career three-homer game, on Aug. 23 against the Nationals. Judge’s three homers on Friday traveled a combined 1,182 feet (more than four New York City blocks), as projected by Statcast.

“Aaron’s the man,” said Yankees starter Luke Weaver, who picked up the win with 5 1/3 scoreless innings. “We played together back in college, the Cape Cod League. Humble as ever then and still the same guy. It’s really cool to play with him.

“Seeing him from afar so long, it’s nice to be on the right side of that. The guy hits the ball so hard, I’m surprised he doesn’t have a bazillion homers.”

Judge is the sixth player in franchise history to record multiple three-homer games, joining Lou Gehrig (four), Joe DiMaggio (three), Alex Rodriguez (three), Tony Lazzeri (two) and Bobby Murcer (two).


“It’s incredible,” Judge said. “You see the list of players that have come through here and the retired numbers out there. I’m just trying to do my job. I got into some good counts, and guys in front of me were getting on base, creating some havoc out there. So I’m just happy to come away with the win.”

Gehrig is the only Yankee to hit four homers in a game (June 3, 1932). Judge nearly got a chance, but he was left on deck when Estevan Florial flied out to end the eighth inning.

“Hopefully, down the road, maybe it’ll happen,” Judge said. “We’ll see.” Despite missing two months with a torn ligament in his right big toe -- the result of a daring catch on June 3 at Dodger Stadium -- Judge has belted 35 home runs in 100 games, nine shy of Shohei Ohtani (44 in 135 games) for the AL lead. He leads the Yankees in homers, RBIs (70), walks (80) and on-base percentage (.401).

“A lot of missed time, a lot of missed opportunities,” Judge said. “You can look at the numbers and what we’ve got now, but I look more at the games I missed and the opportunities I missed.”

Judge hit 62 home runs last year, eclipsing Roger Maris’ 61-year-old AL single-season record. “One of the things I admire about Aaron is, no matter what’s going on, you can’t tell,” Boone said. “He’s a total pro. He’s our captain. He’s a great teammate, and that’s what he focuses on each and every day.”

The Yankees’ scant postseason hopes have prompted outside discussion about resting Judge through the last week of the season. Boone has batted those suggestions away, saying that Judge is healthy, wants to play and takes pride in “setting an example, especially for some of the young guys that we’ve got up.”

“We’re not out of it. I think that’s No. 1,” Judge said. “No. 2, you’ve got to play. You’ve got to be out there. It’s about showing up every single day. You’re not going to feel 100 percent every single day. Guys are going to have bumps or bruises -- or toe stuff, I guess. If you’re at 60 percent, you’ve got to give 100 percent of your 60 percent.”

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