Live blog: Yankees-Rangers ALCS Game 1

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UPDATE: It’s all over. Thanks to a stunning eighth inning comeback, the Yankees have taken Game 1 of the ALCS over the Rangers 6-5.

Mitch Moreland singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera and was then bunted over to second base by Elvis Andrus. Not the worst play if you are trying to stay alive, but it’s tough to give up even one out when you are facing the best closer in the history of the world. Michael Young hung in there against Rivera, but eventually struck out swinging for the second out. Josh Hamilton grounded out to Alex Rodriguez end it, stranding Moreland at second base.

Thanks for hanging out at HBT tonight. Stay tuned for our post-game wrap-up from our very own Aaron Gleeman.

11:47 PM: The Yankees missed a prime chance to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. After Derek Jeter led off with a double, Yankees manager Joe Girardi oddly made the call for Nick Swisher to bunt…with nobody out. Swisher popped up the bunt and Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez followed with consecutive fly outs to end the inning. Mariano Rivera enters the bottom of the ninth with a 6-5 lead.

11:32 PM: Yikes. The nightmare isn’t over yet. Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a four-pitch walk against Kerry Wood, but proceeded to get picked off first base. That’s a killer. Wood then got David Murphy to ground out and Julio Borbon to strike out swinging. The Rangers are actually hitless since Michael Young’s two-run double in the fourth inning. It’s 6-5 as we head to the top of the ninth.

11:20 PM: Completing a nightmare eighth inning for the Rangers, the Yankees jumped ahead 6-5 on a broken bat single by Marcus Thames. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of debate about using Ron Washington using Holland against a lefty-killer like Thames. Of course, if Washington would have brought in a right-hander there, he probably would have had to face Lance Berkman. Pick your poison, I guess.

By the way (via Aaron), here’s Nolan Ryan’s reaction to the top of the eighth inning. I feel bad for you Rangers fans, but this is pretty classic stuff.

11:08 PM: We’re all tied up in Texas. The Yankees have plated four runs and Ron Washington is about to use his fifth pitcher of the inning. And there’s still nobody out!

After taking over for C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver walked Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Darren O’Day then entered, giving up a rocket to Alex Rodriguez past Michael Young and into left field. Derek Jeter and Swisher scored to narrow the gap to 5-4. Washington made another pitching change, bringing in Clay Rapada to face Robinson Cano. He singled to center field, bringing Teixeira home — Rodriguez was able to make it to third on an error by Josh Hamilton. Left-hander Derek Holland is in to face Marcus Thames with runners on first and third.

10:53 PM: C.J. Wilson was just pulled from the game after giving up an RBI double to Derek Jeter in the top of the eighth. He received a well deserved standing-ovation from the Arlington faithful as he walked off the field. All told, Wilson gave up six hits while walking a pair and striking out four. He threw 68 out of 104 pitches for strikes. Can’t ask for much better.

Darren Oliver is now in the game to face Nick Swisher with Jeter on second base and no outs.

10:30 PM: The Yankees are finally on the board. Robinson Cano just snuck one just inside the right field foul pole to lead off the top of the seventh inning, ending the shutout for C.J. Wilson. Interestingly, left-handed batters didn’t hit a single home run against Wilson in 171 plate appearances during the regular season. In fact, it was the first time he had served up a home run to a lefty batter since June 3, 2008 (Shin-Soo Choo).

10:17 PM: C.J. Wilson needed just nine pitches to get through a 1-2-3 top of the sixth inning. The Yankees desperately need baserunners, so it was a little surprising to see Nick Swisher swinging on the first pitch to lead off the inning. Wilson now has six shutout innings under his belt.

Dustin Moseley is coming in for the Yankees in the bottom of the sixth. Like Joba Chamberlain before him, this is his first appearance since October 3.

9:56 PM: Derek Jeter grounded into an inning-ending double play in the top of the fifth, so the score remains 5-0.

In other news, Joba Chamberlain is in the game to start the bottom of the fifth inning, as C.C. Sabathia is done for the night. He gave up six hits while walking four and striking out three. Aside from a playoff tuneup last October and an injury-shortened start last June, this was his shortest outing as a Yankee. It’s probably for the best. If the Yankees come back, great. If not, they may need him for Game 4.

9:41 PM: The Rangers finally cashed in against C.C. Sabathia in the bottom of the fourth. Michael Young doubled the other way to drive in Matt Treanor and Elvis Andrus, giving the Rangers a 5-0 cushion. Joba Chamberlain is up in the Yankees’ bullpen, as Sabathia is at 95 pitches through four innings.

9:32 PM: Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames had back-to-back singles with two outs in the top of the fourth, but C.J. Wilson was able to get Jorge Posada to fly out and escape. He has thrown 58 pitches through four innings, walking one and striking out three (including two swinging strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez).

By the way, Craig just tweeted this link to Nolan Ryan’s first pitch. Pretty cool if you haven’t seen it. He can still bring the heat.

9:13 PM: Josh Hamilton led off the bottom of the third with a walk, then earned his antlers by stealing second base on a swinging strikeout by Vladimir Guerrero. CC Sabathia balked, moving him to third base, but the big southpaw was able to get Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler to ground out, keeping the score at 3-0. The Yanks are pretty darn fortunate to be this close.

9:02 PM: The Yankees just had their first threat of the game in the top of the third inning, but were unable to score. Despite giving up a single to Curtis Granderson and walking Brett Gardner, C.J. Wilson threw just 13 pitches in the inning.

8:51 PM: After throwing 36 pitches in the first, Sabathia retired the side in order on 14 pitches in the second. He continued to miss up on his first two batters in the frame, but had a nice sequence on Michael Young, striking him out looking for the third out.

8:35 PM: Didn’t see that one coming. Pitching on nine-days’ rest, CC Sabathia struggled to command his fastball in the bottom of the first, throwing just 16 out of 36 pitches for strikes and walking three. It could have been a lot worse, too, as the third out was recorded at home plate after a wild pitch. Fortunately, it looks like home plate umpire Gerry Davis got this call right.

As for Josh Hamilton, he probably won’t have to answer any more questions about his poor performance at the plate during the ALDS. He turned on a hanging curveball and eeked it over the right field fence to give the Rangers an early 3-0 lead. That’s where we stand after one.

8:11 PM: C.J. Wilson just negotiated his way through a 1-2-3 top of the first, throwing just 12 pitches. Wilson led the American League with 93 walks during the regular season, averaging 4.1 BB/9, so look for the Yankees to work the count as the game continues. Of course, they are the Yankees, so we should expect nothing less.

8:00 PM: At long last, baseball.

Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Rangers is just a few short minutes away.

With that in mind, I’ll be dropping some of my random thoughts and observations right here throughout the night. Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section.

Tonight’s starters:

C.J. Wilson – The southpaw went 15-8 with 3.35 ERA during the regular season, including a 5.65 ERA in three starts against the Bombers. He tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS.

CC Sabathia – The big left-hander was 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA during the regular season, including six innings of one-run ball in his lone start against the Rangers on April 16. He allowed four runs — three earned — over six innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Twins.

Looking for tonight’s lineups? Aaron has you covered right here.

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

aaron judge
Cole Burston/Getty Images
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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.