Judge stuck at 60 home runs, Yankees beat Red Sox 5-4

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

NEW YORK – It’s only been a few days since Aaron Judge went deep. It just feels like more, with history hanging on his every swing.

Judge was held without a home run for the third straight game, keeping him at 60 for the season and one shy of Roger Maris’ American League record, but the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Friday night.

“He’s getting off the right swings. He’s making good swing decisions. It’s going to come,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But it is a peek behind just how great a player he is, to that when he doesn’t hit the ball out of the ballpark, he’s still impacting us in a big way.”

Jose Trevino singled home the tiebreaking run with two outs in the eighth inning, and the first-place Yankees reduced their magic number to four for clinching the AL East title. They’ve won five games in a row and nine of 11.

With four of Maris’ children in the ballpark again, Judge went 1 for 4 with a sharp single. He struck out twice and lofted a high fly to left field that excited the sellout crowd of 47,346 for a second or two.

Since connecting for No. 60 on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, the closest Judge has come to matching Maris’ 1961 mark was a 404-foot drive caught right in front of the center field fence Thursday.

“He’s just missed two the last two nights,” Boone said.

The slugger has two games left to catch Maris on New York’s current homestand – Saturday afternoon and Sunday night versus the rival Red Sox. After that, the Yankees head to Toronto and have just three home games remaining: Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 against Baltimore.

One night after the Yankees wrapped up their sixth consecutive playoff berth, Boone and ace Gerrit Cole were ejected in a sixth-inning spat with plate umpire Brian Knight.

Pinch-hitter Harrison Bader drew a two-out walk in the eighth and was credited with a stolen base when a wild pickoff attempt by Matt Strahm (3-4) allowed him to reach third.

Trevino singled to center on the next pitch.

Jonathan Loaisiga (2-3) pitched two scoreless innings, working around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth.

Alex Verdugo tied it for Boston with a three-run homer in the sixth. Tommy Pham also went deep against Cole, who has served up 31 long balls this season – most in the American League.

Verdugo sent a 100 mph fastball into the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center, one pitch after Cole thought he had an inning-ending strikeout. The right-hander dropped his head and bent over behind the mound as Verdugo took a slow trot around the bases.

After the inning, Cole pointed angrily at Knight and was ejected for the first time in his career – although the five-time All-Star was probably done for the night anyway after 103 pitches.

“It wasn’t even close,” Verdugo said. “He wants to steal every pitch. He wants his catcher to steal it.”

Boone joined the argument and was tossed for the 24th time as a manager – and career-high seventh this season.

“The damage there late is personally tough to swallow,” Cole said. “I think that we made some good strides today and I thought that overall I threw the ball well. It’s obviously just an emotional moment.”

Batting in front of Judge, No. 9 hitter Aaron Hicks launched his 100th major league homer and added an RBI single. Gleyber Torres gave New York a 4-1 lead with a two-run double off starter Rich Hill in the fifth.

The 42-year-old Hill retired Judge all three times they squared off, including two strikeouts.

“Obviously, there’s history on the line and he’s having an incredible season,” Hill said. “From a pitcher’s standpoint and a competitive standpoint, you want to face the best and you want to challenge the best.”

STAYING CONSISTENT

Judge laced a hard single in the seventh and has reached base safely in a season-high 22 consecutive games.

“With obviously all the noise around this and the excitement around this, understandably, he’s still going out there and just putting together good at-bat after good at-bat,” Boone said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (shoulder inflammation) allowed three runs over three innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Worcester, throwing 57 pitches. He has been sidelined since Aug. 19 but hopes to return before the season ends. … All-Star SS Xander Bogaerts was rested. He is batting .314 and began the night second in the AL to Judge (who dropped a point to .315). Bogaerts could be the biggest obstacle between the Yankees slugger and a Triple Crown. … INF Christian Arroyo rejoined the team after a bout with the flu.

Yankees: 1B Anthony Rizzo was rested. … INF DJ LeMahieu (toe inflammation) has been taking batting practice and it’s possible he could come off the injured list next week in Toronto.

UP NEXT

Red Sox RHP Nick Pivetta (10-11, 4.35 ERA) starts Saturday against Domingo German (2-3, 3.12), who has pitched only 2 2/3 innings since Sept. 7.

Judge is 5 for 11 (.455) in his career against Pivetta with two home runs – both this season (No. 32 on July 16 and No. 56 on Sept. 13). Pivetta has an 8.78 ERA in seven career outings versus New York and is 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA over three starts at Yankee Stadium.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

philadelphia phillies
Al Bello/Getty Images
0 Comments

SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.