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Yankees' Aaron Judge drops the gavel on Miguel Sano to win All-Star Home Run Derby

By Paul Hoynes • Jul 11, 2017 at 10:30 AM

MIAMI — The finals of Monday's All-Star Home Run Derby featured two large men. Aaron Judge was in one corner and Miguel Sano the other.

Judge, the Yankee rookie, is 6-7 and 282 pounds. Sano, the Twins third baseman, is a mere 6-4 and 260 pounds.

In the end, Judge had a little more pop in his swing as he won the derby, 11-10, over Sano at Marlins Park. Judge tied Sano's final-round total of 10 with just over half of his four-minute round left. He quickly ended it with a homer to center field.

Judge did so many big things in the first half of the season for the Yankees that some people are calling him the face of baseball. Not bad for a rookie, who hit .179 (15-for-95) in 27 games in 2016.

He went into the All-Star break leading the big leagues with 30 homers. The last two players to go into the break with that many homers were Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis in 2013.

Judge's 30 homers set the Yankee rookie record previously held by Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio. Judge is the first Yankee aged 25 or younger to hit 30 homers in a season since Don Mattingly hit 31 in 1986.

"I changed a lot of things in my approach," said Judge, on Monday afternoon at the derby press conference, explaining the difference between 2016 and 2017. "A couple of things in my swing, making sure my barrel stays through the zone as long as possible, but mostly with my approach.

"My first year in the big league I would walk up there, the first pitch would go by and I'm wondering why I missed that pitch. All of a sudden it's 0-2 and before you know it I'm walking back to the dugout."

After the derby win Judge was asked if he has had time to contemplate what he's done in the first half of the season. He took a long time to answer and then said simply, "Not really. I try to take one day at a time."

The right-hand hitting Judge reached the finals by beating Corey Bellinger in an all-rookie semifinal. Judge out-homered Bellinger, 13-12. One of his homers was measured at 513 feet.

Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor had never seen Judge in person. He was impressed.

"That guy took over 100 swings and he didn't look tired," said Lindor.

Said Judge, "Adrenaline was pumping a little bit. I tried to use the whole field and square up every ball I could. Since there was a clock on, you can't really take pitches and pick one out. If it was away, I tried to drive it to right field. If it was in the middle, I tried to hit the glass out there (glass wall in center field)."

Bellinger joined the Dodgers on April 25 and shook the National League by hitting 25 homers in 70 games. Bellinger's 25 homers rank second in the NL.

Sano gained the finals by out-slugging Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez, 11-10, in the semifinals. Sano still had time on the clock when he hit his 11th homer to advance. Sano hit 21 homers in the first half for the Twins.

He was the first Minnesota player with at least 21 homers and 62 RBI at the break since Justin Morneau in 2009. Morneau had 21 homers and 70 RBI.

Sanchez came into the derby with 13 homers in the first half. As a rookie last year he hit 20 homers in 201 at-bats.

The biggest upset of the first round saw Sanchez edge Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, 17-16. Stanton, swinging in front of a hometown crowd, was the defending champion.

Sano, Judge and Bellinger emerged from the first round as well. Sano beat AL Central rival Mike Moustakas, 11-10. Judge beat Miami's Justin Bour in a slugfest, 23-22. Bellinger slipped past Colorado's Blackmon, 15-14.

Judge was he was nervous after Bour put 22 homers on the board.

"Once Justin put on that show, I just had to go to work," he said. "I was having fun out there and just had to go to work."

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