Judge's homer against Giants teaches Webb valuable lesson


NEW YORK -- For seven minutes in early December, Giants players and fans were allowed to dream. 

The infamous Arson Judge tweet was a shock to team officials, who knew that no deal was in place, but before the record was corrected it bounced through group texts and across social media. Players started to wonder what their lineup would look like with Judge in the heart of it. On Opening Day, they got a firsthand reminder of what's still missing.

As he has done so often, Judge met the moment. 

His first swing since signing a nine-year, $360 million deal sent a Logan Webb sinker screaming over the center field wall. The 422-foot homer was the first run of the day for the New York Yankees and the only one they needed. It was one of the only mistakes Webb made on a day when he didn't get any support, taking a tough decision in a 5-0 loss.

"I was just trying to get it in. I left it middle," Webb said. "Not where I want to throw that pitch."

Webb allowed just 11 homers last year and the Yankees put only two balls in the air against him Thursday, but both left the yard. Judge said he knows how good Webb is at keeping the ball on the ground and that was going through his mind as he approached their first matchup. 

"I was just trying to make solid contact, especially with a guy like Logan who has got that nasty sinker-changeup mix," Judge said. "He gets a lot of balls on the ground, a lot of weak contact. I was just really trying to elevate a pitch and get it in the air as best I could."

The homer came about half an hour after Judge received a standing ovation when he was re-introduced to a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium. It also came about four months after Judge and Webb discussed a very different possibility. 

The Giants included Webb and Brandon Crawford in their effort to try and bring Judge back to Northern California, and Webb has spoken highly of Judge, saying he enjoyed meeting him and his family and chatting over a dinner in the Gotham Club at Oracle Park. Never one to lean on cliches, Webb was honest after Thursday's game when asked about that pursuit. 

"He's the best hitter in baseball," he said. "Obviously it would have been nice to have him, but he's not (here) and I wish I could have that pitch back."

While Webb had a regret Thursday, Judge doesn't appear to have any about how the winter played out. He reiterated Thursday that he "didn't want to go anywhere" in the offseason. 

"I was pretty vocal about that from the beginning," he said. "You've got to go through the free agency process, but all in all, this is where I want to be."

The Giants knew that from the start, too, but when dealing with a talent like Judge, you still have to give it your best shot. They have no regrets, either, although they certainly would have liked a different result on Thursday. Losing is one thing, but losing in this fashion, with a Judge homer being the first run of the season, provided a bit more sting. 

For his part, Judge didn't rub anything in. He was complimentary of Webb and the Giants, saying before the game that there were "a lot of great people with the Giants" and calling them "a great organization that I've followed since I was a kid."

"It was a dream come true getting a chance to speak with them and getting the opportunity to go there," he added. "But in the end, it just worked out to come back to the Yankees and I'm happy with my decision. I'm wishing them nothing but the best in San Fran."

Webb said earlier this spring that he hopes to stay in touch with Judge and Carlos Correa, two superstars he tried to recruit in the offseason, and perhaps he'll get a chance to catch up with the new Yankees captain later in the series. It was far too busy on both sides Thursday and Webb was far too locked in. He settled into a nice rhythm after Judge's blast, finishing with a career-high 12 strikeouts.

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Two of them belonged to Judge, who swung over a slider in the third and a changeup in the fifth. Asked if he learned anything from the overall experience, Webb smiled. 

"Just don't throw the ball over the middle," Webb said.

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