Judge stuck at 60 HRs as Yankees rout Pirates 14-2

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Aaron Judge disappointed fans by staying stuck at 60 homers but doubled twice and scored on Oswaldo Cabrera‘s first-inning grand slam that started the New York Yankees to a 14-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

A day after hitting home run No. 60 to spark a stunning five-run, ninth-inning rally capped by Giancarlo Stanton‘s game-ending slam, Judge doubled on the first pitch to him in the first and fifth innings. Given another time up during an eight-run eighth inning, Judge walked on four pitches from rookie Eric Stout as the sellout crowd of 46,175 booed loudly.

Judge went 2 for 4 and with 14 games left and remained one home run shy of tying the American League record set by the Yankees’ Roger Maris in 1961. Judge leads the AL in average (.317), home runs and RBIs (128), in position to become the first Triple Crown winner in a decade.

Cabrera and Gleyber Torres had five RBIs each. Torres homered twice in the eighth inning, raising his season total to 23.

Applause started whenever Judge walked onto the on-deck circle, and fans stood and snapped photos. Maris’ sons and Judge’s family were in the stands.

He started the first against rookie Roasny Contreras (5-5) with a liner to left and began the fifth with a one-hopper over the left-field wall.

New York (90-58) closed in on its sixth straight postseason berth and 24th in 28 years. The Yankees began the night 5 1/2 games ahead of second-place Toronto in the AL East.

Cabrera made the Yankees the first team in major league history to end a game with a slam and hit another in the first inning of its next game, according to STATS. The only previous teams to hit slams in the last inning of a game and the first of the next were the 1955 Boston Red Sox and the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cabrera has three homers and 14 RBIs in 30 games since his debut on Aug. 17. With the bases loaded on Judge’s double and a pair of walks by Contreras, Cabrera drove a hanging slider into the right-field bleachers.

New York has four slams in four games against the Pirates this season, including in consecutive innings on July 6. The Yankees’ 10 slams this season are their most since 2012.

Harrison Bader had a two-run double in the big eighth and has five RBIs in his first two games with the Yankees.

Luis Severino (6-3) returned from a strained right lat muscle that had sidelined him since July 13 and allowed one run and two hits in five innings with six strikeouts. He reached 98.9 mph.

Contreras struck out a career-high 10, allowing six runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Ke'Bryan Hayes had a sacrifice fly and RBI single for Pittsburgh (55-94).

SLAMMIN’

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre won 4-3 at Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night as Ronald Guzman hit a seventh-inning slam.

TWO-FERS

Torres joined Joe DiMaggio, Joe Pepitone, Cliff Johnson and Alex Rodriguez (twice) as Yankees to hit two homers in an inning.

EYEBALLS

New York’s win Tuesday averaged 539,000 on the Yankees’ YES Network, its most prime-time viewers for a game other than against the Mets since 557,000 for an 11-inning game against Atlanta on Aug. 2, 2018. YES is averaing 352,000, up 23% from last year and its highest since 2011.

CRUZ CONTROL

Pittburgh’s Oneil Cruz was given a Paul O’Neill No. 21 jersey and spoke with O’Neill – whom he is named after – by video chat. O’Neill is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and broadcasts Yankees’ games from home in Ohio.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Scott Effross (shoulder strain) will be activated Thursday. … LHP Zack Britton finished his minor league rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery and hopes to be actived in a few days. … INF-OF Matt Carpenter (broken left foot) had an X-ray Tuesday and was cleared for more weight-bearing work. He’ll have another X-ray in nine or 10 days. … New York is trying to pick the right time to activate INF DJ LeMahieu (right second toe), who likely will not be 100%. … OF Aaron Hicks was feeling ill and left the ballpark before the game.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller (5-11, 4.03) opens a four-game series at home on Thursday against the Chicago Cubs’ RHP Hayden Wesneski (1-1, 2.30).

Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon (13-5, 4.04) starts Thursday’s opener of a four-game series against Boston and RHP Michael Wacha (11-1, 2.61), who is 8-0 in his last 12 starts.

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.