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All rise! Aaron Judge makes potential catch of the year as Yankees defeat Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees made a statement Saturday by tying their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 6-3 win.

New York made up for its poor performance Friday with strong showings from Jake Bauers and Judge on Saturday. Bauers came to the plate with a vengeance, as he swung for a two-run home run in the top of the second inning and another two-run homer in the top of the fourth.

Judge left his mark with his 19th home run of the season at the top of the sixth inning.

Then the Dodgers nearly took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Judge put his body on the line, ran through the Yankees’ bullpen gate and robbed a would-be double from JD Martinez — and a potential momentum swing from the Dodgers.

Martinez spoke on the catch postgame. “It’s happened to me about 17 times [in my career] probably,” he said. “It’s a great catch. My reaction was, ‘Did he catch it?’ I was just hoping he dropped it.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also amazed by the play.

“Man, what a play. I thought it was a sure double, and he made a heck of a play out there,” he said. “That could have definitely flipped the inning. We took some good hits, but unfortunately, there was the lineout by Mookie [Betts]lineout by Freddie [Freeman] and then the catch by Judge.”

Judge looks to be chasing another MVP award with his performance so far this season. He made his presence known Saturday after a seemingly nonexistent outing in Friday’s loss, finishing the night 1-for-3 with a home run and an RBI.

According to The Athletic, at this point in the season, Judge is showing similar numbers to his 2022 MVP season, despite the 11 games he missed due to injury.

Also showing up for the Yankees was pitcher Gerrit Cole (6-0), who pitched a stellar game, allowing only one run on 80 pitches. All in all, the Yankees put on a show for the sold-out crowd, which included notable figures such as MLB Hall of Famer and former Yankee Dave Winfield, New York superfan Spike Lee, rapper LL Cool J and Dodgers minority owner and NBA champion Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

The Dodgers started the evening with pitcher Michael Grove, who was activated Saturday after missing six weeks due to a right groin strain. He gave up four runs and four hits through four innings.

Grove evaluated his performance afterwards and acknowledged that there are things he needs to work on.

“There’s just some things I need to go back to,” he said. “There’s some more work to put in and just remembering to stay on top of it. [An outing like this] always feels worse in a loss. But I made a lot of really good pitches and some bad ones that I got punished for. There’s plenty to learn from.”

The Dodgers’ offense made a hard push in the bottom of the seventh inning, with a triple by Chris Taylor, an RBI triple by Miguel Vargas and an RBI double by Miguel Rojas to bring the game within two runs.

The Dodgers went through five pitchers Saturday, including Taylor Scott, who was making his Dodgers debut. They closed the night with Victor Gonzalez, who gave up a home run to Oswaldo Cabrera on only his fourth pitch. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been riddled with injuries all season, and the Yankees took advantage of that Saturday.

The Yankees (35-25) and Dodgers (35-24) finish this three-game series Sunday afternoon. If Judge continues to perform at the level everyone has gotten used to, the Yankees are well-positioned to come away with a series win over one of the NL’s top teams.