MLB Opening Day: Aaron Judge picks up where he left off, blasts 422-foot home run in first at-bat of season

Aaron Judge is back and doing Aaron Judge things.

The New York Yankees slugger is fresh off setting the single-season AL home run record. On Thursday, he kicked off his 2023 campaign with a first-inning home run against San Francisco Giants starter Logan Webb in a 5-0 Yankees win.

Webb threw a 93 mph sinker on an 0-1 count that crossed the middle of the plate at the low end of the strike zone. Judge took a swing and launched it 422 feet over the center-field wall at Yankee Stadium.

The home run was the first of the new MLB season.

Judge was met on his way back to the dugout with personalized celebrations from his teammates that were in midseason form. What a start.

The cliché thing to do in such a circumstance would be to project Judge's home run tally based on this performance. So let's be cliché.

Mar 30, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Judge hit a home run in his first 2023 at-bat. (Brad Penner/Reuters)

Given the most optimistic outlook of Judge being available for all 162 games and a ballpark projection of 4.5 at-bats per game, Judge's first-inning home run put him on pace for 769 home runs this season.

Alas, Judge's second at-bat produced a strikeout, and he finished his day 2-for-4 with the solo home run, two RBIs and two strikeouts. Still, the reigning AL MVP is off to a rousing start in the Bronx.

Both starting pitchers set strikeout records

Judge wasn't the only player with a notable 2023 debut at Yankee Stadium. Each starting pitcher set his team's Opening Day strikeout record on a day when offense not produced by home runs was difficult to come by.

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole tallied 11 strikeouts while issuing just two walks in six shoutout innings. He picked up the win.

Webb bested Cole with 12 strikeouts alongside two walks in six innings. He took the loss thanks to four earned runs allowed.

Designated hitter Gleyber Torres gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead with a two-run blast off of Webb in the third inning, and the Yankees added two more insurance runs in the seventh.