BOSTON — Aaron Judge reached out, made the catch, hit the short wall along the right-field foul line at knee-level — and plunged head-first into the stands.
Luckily, the 6-foot-7, 282-pounder fell into an empty seat at Fenway Park.
“My adrenaline was pumping, so I didn’t feel too much when I went in there,” said Judge, who reported he had emerged unscathed after the game. “I was just trying to make a play.”
Anything to help his team win.
“That’s a big boy to be piled up on the nachos and the peanuts in the front row between the wall and the seats,” Brett Gardner said. “He disappeared for a second, and I was concerned about him, but I was glad to see him get up.”
Judge came up huge for the Yankees again on Wednesday night in his major-league debut at Boston’s historic ballpark — just as he has throughout the early portion of the season.
On his 25th birthday, the hulking slugger provided the third-inning web gem — which was changed to a catch following a challenge and replay review because Judge dropped the ball on his transfer — along with a second-inning two-run homer off reigning AL Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello, and the Yankees avoided injury and near-collapse in a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox on a misty and foggy evening.
“It’s never easy here, and we know that,” Joe Girardi said after Aroldis Chapman nearly surrendered a walk-off three-run homer to Josh Rutledge which landed foul before striking him out to end the game.
“Once he hit it I knew it was a foul ball,” said Chapman (five saves), who had his streak of seven consecutive scoreless appearances to begin the season snapped.
Chapman, who last pitched on April 22, required 33 pitches in the ninth, and was seen grabbing his elbow, but said he isn’t concerned about it. “No, I feel fine. Thank God. I feel fine,” said Chapman, whose velocity was down.
Until that point, the Yankees seemed to be in cruise control.
Luis Severino had one of the best starts of his young career, throwing seven shutout innings. In his last three outings, the 23-year-old righty has produced 27 strikeouts in 22 innings.
“He was outstanding,” Girardi said. “He was in control most of the night.”
In two previous appearances at Fenway, Severino had pitched to an ERA of 9.53. And he admitted he didn’t care for pitching there — until Wednesday night, anyway.
“My confidence right now is very good,” said Severino, who worked with former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez on his mechanics during the offseason. “I wasn’t thinking about the Green Monster. I’ve been solid all year. I just need to keep it up.”
Greg Bird — who started 2017 five for his first 50 — delivered a two-out RBI single off the Monster in the sixth, which proved to be a key insurance run.
“He needed it, and we needed it,” Girardi said.
Dellin Betances recorded a 1-2-3 eighth before Chapman had his ninth-inning hiccup, surrendering two walks and a double to Mookie Betts before striking out Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rutledge to give the Yankees (12-7) a 4-6 record on the road.
It wasn’t easy, though. At Fenway, like Girardi said, it never is.
Now Aaron Judge can really celebrate. Because you can’t have a better birthday than this, right?
“Maybe 26. Maybe 26 might be better,” Judge, who has seven homers this year, said with a laugh. “I don’t know.”