Aaron Judge returned to Houston with a bang — and created plenty of buzz with his trip around the bases after hitting a home run.
The Yankees outfielder took Zack Greinke deep for a solo homer in the third inning — the decisive strike in the Yankees’ 1-0 win over the Astros thanks to Gerrit Cole’s complete-game gem — and as he approached third base, Judge tugged at the front of his jersey. He appeared to be mocking Jose Altuve, who famously grabbed his jersey and shook his finger to tell his teammates not to rip it off after hitting a walk-off homer in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS against the Yankees.
At the time, many believed Altuve was wearing a buzzer to help signal what pitch was coming. A subsequent MLB investigation showed no evidence there was a buzzer, but that hardly quieted the speculation — though it may have been a bit more believable than Judge’s explanation for his jersey pull Saturday night.
“Whenever they keep the roof closed here it’s pretty chilly,” Judge said with a straight face of Minute Maid Park, where the temperature at first pitch was 73 degrees. “So it’s just letting my team know to button up a little bit.”
When asked if that meant social media incorrectly assumed he was trolling Altuve, Judge let out a grin.
“Everyone’s welcome to their own opinion,” he said with a chuckle.
“Probably just some playful banter,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said with a laugh.
This series marks the Yankees’ first trip to Houston since the game-winning homer by Altuve off Aroldis Chapman. In the offseason, news broke of the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme — which included banging trash cans to alert batters what pitch was coming — that had been operational in 2017, when they also knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs.
Judge was one of the many Yankees who were vocal about their strong feelings regarding the Astros after their cheating was revealed. He also didn’t fully buy that the cheating stopped in 2019.
“Yeah, it’s tough to think that it didn’t continue,” Judge said in February 2020. “I don’t know all the facts; nobody knows all the facts, to be honest. So to think that they cheated and won it all in ’17, to think that they just clear-cut stopped the next — ’19 or ’18 — it’s tough for me to say that. But we’ll never really know.’’
Earlier this week, Judge told The Post’s Dan Martin that he has not spoken to Altuve since the 2019 playoffs. They were originally set to be teammates for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, but Altuve has pulled out of the game in order, he said, to rest and get healthy for the second half.
Judge, who will start the All-Star Game in right field, continued to put the finishing touches on a strong first half. After hitting his 21st home run of the season Saturday, he is now batting .286 with a .908 OPS through 83 games.