And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

4 Comments

Giants 2, Mets 0: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4 — and was caught stealing after the hit — but Tim Lincecum puts on his 2009 pants and throws a six hit shutout. And RBI double for Pablo Sandoval too, which is a far more important bounceback for the Giants if they want to get back in contention in the West.  Beltran on the caught stealing: “”I was trying to pick up the catcher’s sign,” Beltran said. “I saw two
fingers and I just felt that I was going to be able to make it. I guess
when you drink too many coffees and too much sugar before the game, it
makes you do crazy things.”  I know most baserunners are trying to do it, but I don’t know that I can remember a player saying, right after the game, that he was trying to snag the catcher’s signs like that.

Cardinals 7, Dodgers 1: Like Lincecum, it looks like Chris Carpenter benefited from the time off (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6K 0 BB). Not so much for Clayton Kershaw, who gave up five runs over four and a third inefficient innings. Joe Torre: “He hadn’t pitched in a week, you’ve got to chalk it up to that.” Rest helps some guy, hurts others. Sometimes I think we don’t know a damn thing about pitching.

Angels 8, Mariners 3: Ichiro Suzuki and Erick Aybar both lead off and both drove in three runs. Eight runs on sixteen hits for the Angels is a good sign after stumbling into the break in a run-scoring funk. Which unlike most kinds of funk, isn’t good!

Cubs 12, Phillies 6: Picked a hell of a day to write my “is Jamie Moyer a Hall of Famer” post, eh? The aged one gets smacked around for six runs in three innings and Ryan Demptser handles the Phillies bats for six innings. Aramis Ramirez hit a couple of doubles and had four RBI and Derek Lee and Geovany Soto each had two-run bombs. Which is how they figured over the winter the lineup would work.

White Sox 8, Twins 7: The White Sox pulled off four hit-and-runs and got all bunty and stuff. As a fan I enjoy watching that stuff. As someone who tries to think hard about baseball, I worry about the diminishing returns of all of that. Worked last night, though. For the Twins, Joe Mauer had three hits and three RBIs, but Kevin Slowey couldn’t miss any bats. Oh, and Justin Morneau is on the DL now, so things just keep getting better for Minnesota.

Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: What happens when the flutterball doesn’t flutter: seven runs pm eight hits in two innings, that’s what happens. Three doubles for Josh Hamilton who now leads the AL in hitting. The Sox have dropped six of eight.

Braves 2, Brewers 1:  Jason Heyward returned. He had no hits, but he made two big defensive plays, each victimizing Casey McGehee. First he threw McGehee out at third when he tried to take two bases on a Jim Edmonds single, then he made a running, smash-into-the-wall catch of a McGehee drive.  In a game as close as this one, both plays were critical.  And with the Mets and Phillies losses, Atlanta leads them in the East by five and five and a half games, respectively.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

aaron judge
Cole Burston/Getty Images
3 Comments

TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.