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Aaron Judge embarking on another assault on record book

SAN DIEGO — The New York Yankees have the best seats in the world to watch the greatest show in baseball.

They get to interact with the star before he sets foot on stage, occasionally chat with him during the performance, gawk at what they’re seeing, and pinch themselves afterwards trying to fathom the greatness they’re witnessing.

Aaron Judge, who brought you the single-season American League home run record two years ago, is now putting on one of the greatest seasons in Yankee history.

He hit another home run in the first inning Saturday night, hit another double three innings later, and then left everyone trying to describe just what they’re seeing after the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Judge became the first player in baseball history to hit 11 doubles and 12 homers in a 20-game span.

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Judge is hitting .455 with a .569 OPS and 1.182 slugging percentage in his last 13 games.

Judge has homered in four consecutive games.

Judge is tied for the major-league lead with 17 home runs.

Judge is leading the major leagues with a .637 slugging percentage and 1.050 OPS.

And the Yankees’ 37-17 record is the best in the American League and their third-best start since 1956.

‘I mean, it’s been unbelievable,’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. ‘What Aaron’s doing is what the greats do from time to time.

‘I’ve witnessed a lot of amazing baseball from Aaron Judge over the last six or seven years, so anytime he does something that’s a first or unique or whatever adjective you want to put on it, that frankly doesn’t surprise me because I know how good he is.

‘When he gets locked it, it’s just different.’

Judge’s exploits have been so ridiculous this month that Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo − who bats behind Judge − is worried that he’s going to pull a calf muscle jumping up and high-fiving Judge after his homers.

When asked how to describe Judge’s 20-game tear, Verdugo said, ‘That’s my season.’

Verdugo, teammates for the first time this season with Judge, stood back and laughed.

‘Playing against him throughout the whole course of my career,’ Verdugo said, ‘this is what I was accustomed to seeing. Seeing him do it every day, and obviously the slow start to how hot he’s been now, it’s crazy, it’s just crazy.

‘He’s a different animal, and it’s somebody that he just needs to touch it, and the ball jumps off just way different than other guys.’

Oh, yeah, about that slow start.

Judge was hitting just .179 with three homers, 11 RBI and a .682 OPS the first 21 games of the season. His 27 strikeouts were the second-most in the American League.

And was getting booed at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees starter Nestor Cortes was incensed at the crowd reaction saying after a game, “I feel like he’s done a lot for this team, a lot for this organization. He’s going to come out (of this). It’s just a matter of time. He’s going to be Aaron Judge.’

Well, here we are one month later, and look who’s getting the last laugh?

‘It’s part of it,’ Judge said. ‘You know it’s a long season. There’s going to be bumps and bruises, and good times and bad times.

‘But I can’t get caught up in what people are saying or what they’re not saying. I’ve got a job to do, and especially in New York, you’ve got to show up every single day. I’ve got a job to do, and especially in New York, you’ve got to show up every single day.

‘And I wasn’t showing up so I understand there was a lot of questions, and now it’s past us.’

Judge is making a mockery out of the Yankees’ record book the way he’s performing, joining Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig by hitting at least 18 doubles and 17 homers in the Yankees’ first 54 games.

‘Got a lot of work to do, a lot of games to play, so we got to keep working,’ Judge said. ‘I don’t look at the past. The most important thing is just staying focused and trying to improve a little bit each day.’

That’s Judge.

Let everyone else gush, praise and adore him.

‘We’re watching greatness,’ said Yankees starter Marcus Stroman, who pitched six shutout innings, yielding just three hits. ‘Sometimes you can take it for granted to be honest, but this something I’ll be sitting with my grandkids at some point and saying I got to play with Aaron Judge.’

Judge hears the compliments, shrugs, and refuses to bask in his accomplishments.

He’s tearing it up, the Yankees are rolling, and he refuses to be satisfied until he’s holding that World Series trophy.

‘The biggest thing he’s the same guy no matter what,’ Verdugo said, ‘so it’s awesome to see. He’s special man.

‘He’s a captain for a reason. He got paid ($360 million) for what he did for a reason. He’s just somebody that goes about everything the right way. Guys love him, whether you’re on his team or he’s on the opposing team.

‘He’s the superstar that I feel a lot of kids and a lot of people should try to model their game after. If it’s not their game, at least the personality and person.’

For now, the Yankees will sit back, enjoy the show, and ride the big man’s shoulders, perhaps all of the way through October.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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