X-rays, CT scan come back negative after Judge hit by pitch

NEW YORK -- The Yankees opened a marquee three-game series Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, a second-place behemoth on their heels in the standings, with a 4-2 win at Yankee Stadium. But the result was sullied by what happened in the third inning: Aaron Judge getting hit by a 94-mph fastball on the left hand and exiting the game an inning later.

Suddenly, the Yankees' grip on first place seemed loose. The road to a World Series appeared a lot bumpier. Those fears were erased a few hours later when Judge, after leaving for a hospital for testing on the hand and returning, announced results from X-rays and a CT scan on the hand were negative. No fracture. Disaster averted.

"Any time you get hit by 94, 95 up and in like that, especially on the hand where there's so many small bones and ligaments, and stuff like that, you just never know what's going to happen or what it's going to be," Judge said. "So, getting that good news is a good thing."

Judge took the fastball from Orioles starter Albert Suarez, who had thrown another fastball up and in on Judge moments earlier. Judge fouled that pitch away, but he couldn't avoid the second one high and tight. The star center fielder immediately grabbed his hand and paced around, out toward the mound, in pain and seemingly angry before walking to first base.

"I was definitely pissed," Judge said. "There was a couple of balls up and in, but it's part of it. They like to throw in. So, part of it."

Tensions rose again two innings later when Gleyber Torres took a 94-mph fastball from Keegan Akin on the left hand. He stayed in the game.

"At the end of the day, we don't take what happened lightly," Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo said. "Obviously, [Judge], it's a big one for us, so none of us are too pleased about it. At the same time, I don't believe it was intentional. It was just one of those things where a couple of pitches got away from their guys. It's one of those things after you hit somebody, if you can't go in, don't go in that way. It's just one of those things. We'll see what happens."

Unlike Torres, Judge eventually departed after initially staying in the game. He ended up scoring on an RBI single from Giancarlo Stanton and played center field in the fourth inning before Trent Grisham pinch hit for him in the bottom of the frame. The 2022 American League MVP then left Yankee Stadium to undergo tests at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

"I wanted to hit," Judge said. "I was down in the cage trying to swing but really couldn't at the time. So, gave him time to get warmed up."

Judge said he feared the worst knowing that he fractured a bone in his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch in July 2017. The injury sidelined Judge for nearly two months. Last season, he missed nearly two months with a torn ligament in his right big toe, and the Yankees spiraled without him.

"Big relief, just being hit there before, a couple of years ago, and breaking my wrist, you never know what's going to happen," Judge said. "So, finding out that it's not fractured, not broken, is a sigh of relief."

Judge said he hopes to play Wednesday. He has started 74 of the Yankees' 75 games this season, making 55 of the starts in center field. He's the leading AL MVP candidate despite a slow April thanks to otherworldly production since the start of May. He entered Tuesday leading the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, home runs and RBIs since May 1.