In the clubhouse afterward, some Yankees gathered at their lockers to carefully study video of the celebration on their phones. There was no consensus as to what exactly happened, but replays appeared to show Gardner's helmet ending up in the scrum and knocking the 6-foot-7 Judge back like an uppercut.
Video replays were not conclusive, but it seemed as if the helmet was on the back of catcher Austin Romine as he jumped up and down with Gardner.
The force of Romine's leap caused the helmet to strike Judge's mouth. Judge, whose gap tooth is already one of his trademarks, brought his left hand to his mouth and quickly receded to the team's locker room.
"Somehow he got hit in the celebration," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
A Yankees spokesman announced that Judge had chipped a tooth. Judge was unavailable for comment but was expected to be fine to start Friday night's game against the Rays.
The helmet was not on Gardner's head during the celebration because it has become tradition to remove it right before reaching the plate on a game-ending homer. Gardner did and then rolled the helmet toward home plate, which is how it ended up like a hot potato that found Judge's jaw.
Clint Frazier, Todd Frazier and Chase Headley were among Yankees players looking at the video by their lockers, trying to discern who cost the team's MVP candidate his tooth. The hard-charging Clint Frazier, who has already earned his share of headlines, was thought at one point to be the culprit. However, replays seemed to exonerate him.
The Yankees' postgame locker room was having a pretty good laugh about the tooth because it wasn't that serious and the victory was improbable.
In the ninth, Gardner led off with a triple. After Clint Frazier and Judge failed to bring him home, Gary Sanchez hit a grounder that probably should have been fielded for the last out, but the shifting Rays middle infield of Adeiny Hechavarria and Tim Beckham miscommunicated and the ball bounded into the outfield. In the 11th, Gardner ended it with his home run that led to Judge's tooth being chipped.
"He's too big to get hurt by something like that," Gardner said. "I think he'll be all right. I guess my helmet hit him a little bit in the mouth, in the face. It wasn't my fault. I threw it on the ground and then I think he had it in his hand and somebody bumped into him and it hit him in the face."
Well after midnight, Eddie Fastook, the Yankees' head of security, emerged from the locker room and appeared to be searching for the chipped tooth around home plate. Fastook never reached down. The tooth has yet to be located.