Monday’s contest between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees featured a few unusual scenes during a 7-4 winning effort for the Bronx Bombers.
First, of course, was another poor outing from Alek Manoah, who surrendered five runs on six hits and a career-high seven walks before departing after four innings. But the right-hander’s disappointing outing wasn’t the strangest takeaway from this AL East showdown.
Instead, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s fifth plate appearance drew the most attention and controversy. Last season’s AL MVP appeared distracted by something before connecting for a 462-foot home run — his second of the game — off Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson.
Just as Jackson began his windup, Judge’s eyes drifted toward the Yankees’ dugout as if they were trying to get his attention.
Aaron Judge hits a home run as the Blue Jays broadcasters wonder why he keeps glancing toward the dugout pic.twitter.com/ZrOY7grbYV
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 16, 2023
the Blue Jays broadcast pointed out that Aaron Judge seemed to be looking, well, not at the pitcher...and then they noticed it again just before he homered pic.twitter.com/mHFXbsF6S3
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) May 16, 2023
Sportsnet’s broadcast was the first to notice this odd sequence, speculating that New York’s bench may have relayed signs or location to Judge. It is also possible Jackson was tipping his pitches in the eighth inning.
Either way, No. 99 got every bit of Jackson’s pitch, blasting his longest home run of the season and tying the eighth-furthest of his career.
Judge was asked about his final at-bat post-game, and said it had nothing to do with sign stealing but that he wanted to see which of his teammates were arguing with home plate umpire Clint Vondrak after Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected earlier that inning.
Aaron Judge says he was looking toward the Yankees dugout because he didn't like how much his teammates were chirping the umpire with a 6-0 lead
"I said a couple things to some guys in the dugout and especially after the game. Hopefully it won't happen again." pic.twitter.com/rMJ05Ilp0r
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) May 16, 2023
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, plan to investigate the incident themselves to determine what transpired before Judge’s home run. In their eyes, however, things played out a little too suspiciously.
Thus, manager John Schneider will ensure his team is protected from any shenanigans moving forward.
John Schneider on Aaron Judge:
"It’s kind of odd that a hitter would be looking in that direction. He’s obviously looking in that direction for a reason."
He says the #BlueJays will look at it further to make sure they're "not susceptible" to tendencies, locations, pitches.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) May 16, 2023
Jackson echoed a similar sentiment after the game, as well, but refrained from making any allegations. Still, the veteran righty intends to shake up his game plan the next time he faces Judge.
"I'm not going to say anything about another organization. For him to be peeking that amount of time - it seemed like it wasn't just a glance, then kinda readjusting your eyes to get back on the pitcher."
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) May 16, 2023
New York took the series opener of this four-game set, which continues Tuesday, as Domingo Germán and Kevin Gausman will square off in the second game of this rivalry bout.
After the series concludes on Thursday, though, the teams won't see each other until September.