The New York Yankees host bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx for the second game of their four-game home series, but for once the rivalry takes a back seat as Aaron Judge looks to match Roger Maris’ American . League and Yankees single-season record of 61 home runs.
On Thursday, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-4 to clinch their spot in the 2022 postseason, but that performance was overshadowed by Judge and his pursuit of greatness.
The right fielder nearly made history in the bottom of the ninth inning. The slugger’s connection appeared to reach the center field net, but fell just short of the glove of Kiké Hernández.
“Just get under it a little bit,” the referee said after the game. “It was a pretty windy night. I was hoping it blew out. Just missed it.”
With the Yankees qualified for the postseason and the Red Sox with nothing to play for in the season but pride, Judge will take center stage as he pursues a stellar performance.
The 30-year-old has already matched Babe Ruth’s total over 90 years ago and could equal – or surpass – Maris’ 61-year-old record, sealing his place among the all-time batting greats.
“I keep saying over and over again, Aaron Judge; everybody should just watch and take notice,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said earlier this week after Judge hit his 60th HR. “I can say that because I has lived this and he’s shown this: he focuses on being a good teammate and winning. He knows everything else will take care of itself.”
Although Judge is unlikely to reach the major league single-season record of 73 home runs, many people have disregarded that number – held by Barry Bonds – or any home run season north of 61 home runs because all of these men were involved in performance-enhancing drug scandals and allegedly used steroids. Bonds and Sammy Sosa have denied these allegations.
The judge disagrees with that claim. Last week, he told Sports Illustrated: “Seventy-three is the record in my book. No matter what people say about that era of baseball, they went out there for me and hit 73 homers and 70 homers, and that’s the record for me.
“[The] The AL record is 61, so that’s one I can try to go after. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it’s been a fun year so far.”
Judge also has a real chance to join Yankee legend Mickle Mantle — who did it in 1956 — as one of two men to hit baseball’s Triple Crown in the season in which they hit 50+ home runs out of the ballpark . Judge has clear leads in home runs and RBIs in the American League. He has traded leads with Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Minnesota’s Luis Arráez for the batting average crown.
Despite his humble demeanor, Judge is on the verge of becoming a true New York Yankee great with this season’s historic offensive performance.
As Boone said, “I think it kicks it up a notch. I have to think it’s right up there with some of the best very short list seasons of all time.”