New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits 60th home run, only one of Roger Maris’ AL record for a season
NEW YORK — Only five players had hit 60 home runs in a single season in major league history — that is, until New York Yankees hitter Aaron Judge joined that exclusive club with a solo homer against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
The judge flipped a sinker from right-hander Wil Crowe leading off the last frame and propelled him 430 feet into the left stand, setting up a five-run, ninth-inning rally for a 9-8 win.
He took a rare curtain, forced by his teammates.
“I really didn’t want it, especially because we’re losing. It’s a solo shot,” he said.
“He hit 60 tonight and it’s like nothing happened. He has more work to do and that’s the mindset and it always will be. It’s fun to be a part of,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who provided a game. Finish Grand Slam.
The All-Star outfielder is now a home run away from tying Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs set in 1961, which was also the major league mark for 37 years.
Hitting his 60th home run, 6-foot-7 judge Babe Ruth (1927) ranked eighth on the single-season home run list.
“I don’t think about the numbers,” Judge said. “If you’re talking about Ruth and Maris and [Mickey] Mantle and all those Yankees greats who did so many great things in this game that you never imagined being mentioned with them as a kid. It’s an incredible honor. It’s something I don’t take lightly at all. But we’re not done yet. We still have a few games left this season and hopefully we’ll get a few more wins.
“I try to enjoy everything, soak it all up, but I know I still have a job to do every day on the field and I just have to keep my head down, keep preparing and stay mentally focused.”
The Yankees maintained a 5½ game AL East lead over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Judge’s 60th home run came from a pitcher whose great-great-grandcle, Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, was Ruth’s teammate with the Yankees in the 1930s. Crowe visited Ruffing’s plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before the game.
“[Judge] did what he was supposed to do with it,” Crowe said, “3-1 count, I won’t field him. I felt like I wanted to go after him. Launched away, came back. He made a good swing on a bad pitch.
Roger Maris Jr. and Kevin Maris, sons of the former player, were both on site. Specially marked balls were used each time the judge went to the plate. Fans on the outside courts stood, and many groaned at every foul.
But they broke out with the judge’s shot in the ninth.
“I think there’s something to be said for that kind of spark, in a game where we lost four runs, and igniting a magic spark that ignited this inning tonight. That was special,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
In MLB history there have been nine seasons with 60 homers hit by six different players. Judge joined Hall of Famers Ruth and Maris, as well as Barry Bonds (2001), Mark McGwire (1999, 1998), and Sammy Sosa (2001, 1999, 1998).
Judge’s 59 home runs were already the most by a right-handed hitter in AL history. Judge became the third member of the legendary Yankees franchise, joining Ruth, four, and Mickey Mantle, two, to have multiple 50-HR seasons while wearing pinstripes.
Judge also took the Triple Crown lead Tuesday night, with his .316 batting average switching to the AL lead while Minnesota Twins first baseman Luis Arraez dropped to .314. Judge, who narrowly leads the league in home runs and RBIs (128), has a chance to become the 11th player to win the Triple Crown since RBIs became official in 1920.
He is the first player since Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012 to top all three categories in September or later, and the first Yankee to do so since Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
No one else in the majors has 40+ home runs.
“To be so far ahead of the field,” Boone marveled, “it’s hard for me to grasp.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.