Yankees Top 19 Games since 2000: No. 13, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin homer in debut
Yankees fans got a glimpse of the future one Saturday afternoon in August
To kick off 2019, we're unveiling our count of the Yankees' 19 best games since 2000. Historic feats, classic comebacks and postseason glory all find their way onto the list with an obvious No. 1 coming Jan. 20.
Let's continue with No. 13, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin's powerful debuts.
When Alex Rodriguez retired on Aug. 12, 2016, it marked the end of an era for the Yankees. Gone were a majority of their players from the dynasty in the 1990s and from the 2009 championship team. Rodriguez was the final player to retire, just three years after Mariano Rivera and two years after Derek Jeter called it a career. Fans weren't sure what would come next and couldn't have expected what did come next.
The day after Rodriguez retired, the Yankees called up two of their top prospects in Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. Judge -- the 6-foot-7-inch outfielder who the Yankees selected in the first round in 2013 -- was crushing pitching down at Triple-A. Austin -- who was taken in the 13th round in 2010 -- was having a strong season in the Minors as well.
Fans knew of Judge and a little bit about Austin, but no one could predict what their futures would be, let alone what they would do in their first taste of the big leagues. With the Yankees sitting just three games above .500 and selling off their best assets, the team called up the duo with a view to the future.
Less than 24 hours after A-Rod's retirement and just about an hour after the team honored the 1996 World Series champions, Austin and Judge were slotted to bat seventh and eighth in the lineup against the Rays. With a 2-2 count in his first at-bat, Austin launched a ball to right field that just made it over the fence. A surreal moment for a rookie, who had been in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 24 hours prior.
Fans and teammates went nuts as the Stadium was buzzing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Next up came Judge, hoping to make his own impact.
Down 1-2 in the count, Judge slugged a home run of his own off the panels above Monument Park. The slugger became the third player to accomplish that feat in the new Yankee Stadium, joining Russell Branyan and Carlos Correa.
At the same time, the duo became the first set of teammates to homer in their first at-bats in the first game -- let alone to do it in back-to-back at-bats. They also joined John Miller, Andy Phillips and Marcus Thames as the only players in franchise history to hit a home run in their first at-bat or plate appearance.
Austin and Judge both went 2-for-4 in the game as the Yankees beat the Rays, 8-4. Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius also homered in the win.
The "Baby Bombers" had arrived and were ready to make their impact on the team, the city and the sport. Judge is now a monumental figure in New York, of course, and is one of the main building blocks on a young roster set up for long-term success.