In the first inning of Wednesday's game, the two players connected for an unbelievable highlight-reel catch that was inches away from becoming a depressing bumble for Judge.
Round 1 of this series went to Ohtani, who pummeled Clarke Schmidt and swiped a base (and an eventual run) later in the game. But Judge made an impressive counterpunch in the opening frame on Wednesday, pulling back a dead-center home run ball by the skin of his teeth.
Or, rather, the tips of his fingers.
After Jhony Brito got Ohtani to swing and miss at a changeup so hard his helmet fell off and flopped around, the slugger adjusted, sending a full-count pitch toward Monument Park. Judge had other plans, knocking the dinger back into play with his glove before corraling it with his bare hand.
Yankees star Aaron Judge robbed Shohei Ohtani with his bare hand
Again, best of luck replicating that. Pure athleticism from Judge to turn an accident into an endlessly-replayed defensive highlight.
Ohtani went out of his way this week to speak about how much he enjoys playing at Yankee Stadium, leaving all his options open ahead of free agency next winter. The statements were a departure from the vibe he gave off last time he was on the market; that time, he and his agents eliminated the Yankees before the second round of interviews.
Who knows if the Yankees will be willing to wade into the same financial waters as Steve Cohen and the Dodgers? Either way, watching the two great superstars go mano-a-mano on Wednesday was a tantalizing example of what could be if they ever decided to team up.