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Shohei Ohtani beats Aaron Judge’s throw with elite speed, but Yankees slugger gets last laugh

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Although the sport of baseball revolves around one-on-one interactions, it’s rare for two star hitters to find themselves engaging each other in direct competition. That wasn’t the case on Sunday night, when New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge tried to throw out Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani as he attempted to score on a fly ball to right field during the late stages of the Yankees’ 6-4 victory (box score)

Take a look at what amounts to baseball poetry in motion:

As you can see in the video above, Judge failed in his effort. Ohtani was able to slide in without much risk of being tagged, reducing New York’s lead to 5-4 in the process. Thanks to the modern marvel that is Statcast data, we can contextualize that play in greater detail. As MLB’s Sarah Langs noted on her Twitter account, Judge’s throw clocked in at 93.4 mph, or within a decimal point of his fastest throw of the season; Ohtani, meanwhile, was running at a rate of 29.4 feet for second, or essentially an elite level for MLB players.

In other words, both Judge and Ohtani were performing at high levels; Ohtani simply prevailed, the way he often does at the plate or, when he’s been healthy, on the mound. That doesn’t mean that Judge went home a loser, however. Not only did Judge and the Yankees prevail, they did so after Judge enacted some revenge in the bottom of the eighth by hitting the following home run on a hanging sweeper from reliever Yohan Ramírez:

According to Statcast, Judge’s home run (his MLB-leading 24th of the season) had a 107.6 mph exit velocity and traveled some 434 feet. Given its distance and launch angle, it would have been a home run in all 30 parks. Additionally, it gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead that proved to be enough padding for closer Clay Holmes, who notched the save after allowing two hits.

The Yankees, in turn, avoided a sweep at the Dodgers — likewise, Judge could head home knowing he had bested Ohtani in multiple respects.

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