Aaron Judge shyly climbed the stairs to sound the curtains and ducked back into the dugout as fast as he could. The Yankees slugger had just tied Babe Ruth with 60 home runs in a season, becoming one of three Yankees ever to reach the plateau, one shy of Roger Morris’ AL record and team record of 61. But Judge resented that he didn’t it is earlier.
“Why didn’t I do that with the bases loaded a little earlier in the game,” Judge said to himself as he rounded the bases and Bronx Stadium went wild. After four blows, Judge lost his mind. Judge’s historic home run sparked a five-run rally in the ninth, capped by Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off grand slam that gave the Pirates a 9-8 victory in front of 40,157 at the stadium.
Anthony Rizzo followed Judge’s historic homer with a double and Gleyber Torres walked. Josh Donaldson had his fly ball drop to shallow center and Stanton crushed his 27th homer of the season to win it.
The night Judge’s name came up in the rarefied air of Ruth and Maris, he was more excited about Stanton breaking out of his slump and winning in the last minute.
“It was a great team game,” Judge said. “That’s what this team is made of. We got off to a slow start, especially against a good rookie pitcher, but the guys worked hard until the very end. So I’ll remember those four at-bats that led to Giancarlo’s exit from the Grand Slam.”
Judge became just the sixth player in major league history (ninth time) to hit at least 60 home runs in a single season, tying Ruth’s mark of 60 in 1927. This is second most in Yankee history and just shy of the team and the American league. a record set by Maurice in 1961.
Only Maris, Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999) and Sammy Sosa (64 in 2001 and 63 in 2001) have hit more home runs in a single season. Sure, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa all found success in the steroid era.
“It’s unreal. It’s amazing to look at and … we get to see all the internal stuff and all the behind-the-scenes work. He turned 60 tonight and nothing happened. He still has some work to do,” said Stanton, who was the last major leaguer to hit the 59 home run mark. “And that’s the mindset, and it always will be, and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Judge leads the majors with 60 homers, the next closest being Kyle Schwarber with 40. The 60 home runs in 147 games are the most by a Yankee and third among all major leaguers. He has hit three homers in his last two games and five in his last six.
This means that Maris’ record of 61 hits and possibly Barry Bonds’ 73 hits in 2001 may begin to be slightly revised.
“I think there’s no limit and you can’t throw your arms around,” Stanton said. “It’s one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time. If he gets the next one, he’ll move on to the next one. The next step, the next fight, but when the distractions and everything else comes to him, then he’s got to have more tunnel vision and just be ready for what’s coming.”
Judge has managed this entire season with tunnel vision, from turning down an extension that would have paid him $230 million over the next eight years on Opening Day and betting on himself, to ignoring the historic numbers he’s putting up. Going 1-for-4 on Tuesday night, Judge’s batting average is .316, the best in the American League. With his 128 RBI, he moved into position to win the first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera in 2012.
However, the judge is not interested in numbers and curtains.
“I didn’t really think about numbers or statistics or anything like that. I was just trying to go out there and help my team win, and at that time it was a solo shot in the ninth, still down by a couple of runs,” Judge said, not waiting to take the call. “But this team, we’ve always had a never-say-die attitude, you know, fight to the end, and you’ve got four guys right behind me that are hitting great one-on-one against a great closer, which makes it that much sweeter, that for sure.”