NEW YORK — Aaron Judge sprinted from right field into gap and crossed in front of Jacoby Ellsbury at the front of the warning track for a backhand grab on Chase Utley’s fly. The ball hit off the glove of the 6-foot-7 rookie and rolled to the wall as two runs scored.
“It looked like they about ran into each other, which wouldn’t have been good for either of them, especially Jacoby,” left fielder Brett Gardner said. “I’m just thankful they didn’t collide.”
On a night of costly errors by New York’s Baby Bombers, Judge’s misplay a wild throw by catcher Gary Sanchez led to four unearned runs that helped the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers beat the AL wild-card chasing Yankees 8-2 in Monday’s series opener.
New York (76-67) lost its second straight following a seven-game winning streak, remained two games behind Baltimore for the AL’s second wild card and dropped one game back of Detroit.
“They’re close. He’s running a long ways. It just happens,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think I’d make too much of it. We can overanalyze a situation. They’ve played really well.”
Judge, a slugger who made his debut Aug. 13, hit a 436-foot homer over the Yankees bullpen and into the left-field bleachers in the fifth and nearly made two other grabs at the wall. Yasiel Puig pinch hit in the eighth and drove an opposite-field home run over the right-field short porch, and Justin Turner homered to nearly the same spot in the ninth, his 27th this season.
After the failed catch on Utley’s drive, Corey Seager had an RBI single for a 4-1 lead.
“Right when I started, I kind of tried to pick up where Jacoby was and he’s fast, man, so he got there quick. But once he got there, I called it and just didn’t make the play,” Judge said.
As for a possible collision, he added: “I just try not to think about that.”
Sanchez, who has sparked the Yankees with 13 homers since his Aug. 3 call-up, exhausted his rookie status Monday and made a rare poor throw. With runners at the corners in the fourth, Howie Kendrick took off for second, and Sanchez’s throw tailed from shortstop Ronald Torreyes and bounced into center, allowing Josh Reddick to come home from third for a 6-1 lead. Kendrick had driven in a run with a squib single.
Bryan Mitchell (1-1), making his second start after missing five months with a toe injury, gave up six runs — two earned — and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings.
“I feel like a good job early and came out aggressive,” Mitchell said. “I think maybe once they started putting those balls in play. I got a little less aggressive.”
Jose De Leon (2-0) won in his second big league start, combining with four relievers on a five-hitter. Tyler Austin struck out four times.
Several hundred Los Angeles fans in the left-field corner of the lower deck, most dressed in Dodger blue, cheered loudly when their players were introduced, and they emulated the Yankees Stadium Bleacher Creatures’ Roll Call of starters in the bottom of the first.
They also unfurled a large blue-and-white “LA” banner over their heads in the manner of soccer supporters in the third, prompting boos from the majority of the crowd of 32,058, and they raised a second banner during the seventh-inning stretch.
“If we’re going to play well down the stretch and get back into the postseason like we aspire to do,” Gardner said, “we’ve got to play well in that kind of atmosphere, whether we’re here at the Stadium or on the road.”
Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius, in a 3-for-34 slide, was out of the starting lineup after being hit by pitches on his left forearm Aug 27 and Sept. 3, and fouling a ball off his ribcage. “Everything’s still swollen,” Gregorius said, who described the pain as 5-6 on a scale of 10. … OF Aaron Hicks, on the DL since Sept. 1 with a strained right hamstring, started jogging in 120-foot stretches Monday and will report to the minor league complex Thursday. The earliest he could return to the team likely is Sept. 19.
LHP CC Sabathia (8-12) starts for the Yankees on Tuesday and 20-year-old LHP Julio Urias (5-3) starts for the Dodgers. Sabathia is 1-2 with a 3.04 ERA in his last four starts.