NEW YORK -- If Aaron Judge is to be believed, the next home run he watches will be his first. And if that is true, then he's probably the only one in the ballpark not paying attention when those tape-measure drives take flight.
Judge homered for the third consecutive game on Wednesday, crushing a two-run blast in the Yankees' 8-4 win over the Rays. The seventh-inning shot off Erasmo Ramirez struck the glass of the recently renamed 1893 Club in center field, making him the second player ever to hit it twice.
"I just run, to be honest," Judge said. "When I hit them, I just start running the bases because you never know what can happen. The wind can knock it down, something can happen. I'm just going to make sure I'm always running."
The 24-year-old slugger is responding well to manager Joe Girardi's call for players to step up in the absence of key contributors Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez. Judge went 2-for-3 with two runs and a career-high three RBIs in Wednesday's win and has compiled three straight multi-hit games.
"I'm really encouraged," Girardi said. "It just seems like he's really gotten going. If someone like that gets hot and starts swinging the bat well, there's going to be balls leaving the ballpark because he's so big and strong. That's what happened."
Judge's 437-foot blast impressed the crowd, but it was his sixth-inning single past reliever Jumbo Diaz that rocketed to the top of the Statcast™ leaderboards. Clocked at 116.5 mph as it whistled into center field, Judge's game-tying drive was the hardest hit registered so far this season.
"It was very close ... I felt the wind go by my head," Diaz said. "When I got back, I received a message from my wife. She was a little scared, a little jolted by it. She was just grateful I was OK."
So was Judge, who said he was relieved that the ball didn't strike Diaz. The key to that at-bat, he said, was not much different than the long homer -- try to get the bat barrel to beat the ball to a given spot and wait for good things to happen.
"For me, I was just trying to drive a pitch up the middle, not try to do too much with runners on," Judge said. "A single works there. I don't have to hit a three-run homer. If I hit a single like I did, it scores the guy and ties up the game. Just keeps the chain moving."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.