The New York Yankees welcome bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox to the Bronx for Game 2 of their four-game home series, but for once the rivalry takes a back seat as Aaron Judge looks to match the American of Roger Maris. League and Yankees single-season record 61 home runs.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-4 on Thursday to seal their berth in the 2022 playoffs, but that achievement was overshadowed by Judge and his quest for greatness.
The right fielder nearly made history late in the ninth inning. The slugger’s connection seemed destined to hit the midfield net, but narrowly fell into Kiké Hernández’s glove.
“I’m just a little under,” Judge said after the game. “It was quite a windy night. I was hoping he was blowing. I just missed it.
With the Yankees through to the playoffs and the Red Sox having nothing to play for in the season other than pride, Judge will take center stage as he continues an incredible feat.
The 30-year-old already tied Babe Ruth’s tally over 90 years ago and could tie – or surpass – Maris’ 61-year-old record, sealing his place among the greatest hitters of all time.
“I keep repeating, Aaron Judge; everyone should just watch and take notice,” Yankees head coach Aaron Boone said earlier this week after Judge reached his 60th HR. “I can say that because I’ve been through it and he showed it: he emphasizes being a great teammate and winning. He knows that everything else will take care of itself.
While Judge is unlikely to hit the major league single-season record of 73 home runs, many people have dismissed that tally – held by Barry Bonds – or any home run season north of 61 home runs because all of these men were involved in performance enhancement. drug scandals and allegedly used steroids. Bonds and Sammy Sosa have denied these allegations.
The judge does not agree with this assertion. Last week he told Sports Illustrated: “Seventy-three is the record in my book. It doesn’t matter what people want to say about that era of baseball, to me they went out there and hit 73 home runs and 70 home runs, and to me that’s what the record is.
“[The] The AL record is 61, so that’s the one I can kind of try to achieve. If it happens, it happens. If not, it’s been a fun year so far.
Judge also has a real shot at joining Yankee legend Mickle Mantle – who did it in 1956 – as one of two men to hit for baseball’s Triple Crown in the season they hit more than 50 home runs out of the stadium. Judge has clear leads in home runs and RBIs in the American League. He traded heads with Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Minnesota’s Luis Arráez for the batting average crown.
Despite his humble demeanor, Judge is poised to become a true New York Yankee great with this season’s historic offensive performance.
As Boone said, “I think that puts him a cut above. I have to believe it’s right there with some of the best really short season lists of all time.