BOSTON – Ask Aaron Judge about his huge lead in American League home runs and RBI and the Yankees slugger echoes a thought from the great Satchel Paige, who said, “Don’t look back, something could win over you.” But let’s be honest – no one catches it there, and what’s more, a triple crown may now be within reach.
Judge stands four big swings away from Roger Maris’ 61-year-old AL record for home runs in a single season, earning his Major League-leading 56th and 57th home runs in the Yanks’ 7-6, 10-innings win over the Red Sox on Tuesday at Fenway Park. Judge’s performance on three hits took his average to .310, nine runs behind AL leader Luis Arraez (.319) of the Twins.
“As a kid, you looked up and saw Albert Pujols hitting .330 every year, consistently posting RBI numbers,” Judge said. “For me, a good shot has always been average. I might be a little old school, but can you knock or not? It’s always been a goal for me to try to get to this point. If I am able to do it, I will help the team, in a good position and winning games.
At 57, Judge has 20 more homers than anyone else in the Majors (Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies has 37). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time a player has finished a calendar day at least 20 homers ahead since the last day of the 1928 season, when Babe Ruth led Jim Bottomley and Hack Wilson by 23. circuits.
“I’m out of adjectives,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s just really impressive.”
So the home run lead is secure and Judge looks to be on solid ground in RBI; with 123, Judge has a 14 RBI lead over José Ramírez of the Guardians. The judge’s average topped .300 on Sept. 5 against Minnesota, though he’s still looking at Arraez, Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox (.318) and Jose Abreu of the White Sox (.312).
It’s, as Yanks ace Gerrit Cole said, “one of the most historic offensive seasons of all time.”
Miguel Cabrera won the last Majors triple crown in 2012, when the Tigers star beat the AL in average (.330), homers (44) and RBIs (139). Before that, no one had achieved the feat since Carl Yastrzemski of the 1967 Red Sox, and no Yankee had done it since Mickey Mantle in 1956.
“Some great guys have done that,” Judge said. “It’s quite special, but I think I’m far from that.”
Gleyber Torres’ three-run and 10th-inning brace against Jeurys Familia was the decisive blow of Tuesday’s game, as Wandy Peralta held off a shaky home half to make a save. Big judging jabs (plus one from Marwin Gonzalez) got them there, helping propel New York’s seventh win in nine games.
“He’s going to free agency, and that’s really good motivation for him,” Torres said of Judge. “For me, it’s not surprising. I know what kind of guy he is. He knows what he’s doing. It basically hits everything. It’s really special and fun to watch.
Judge connected for solo shots in the sixth and eighth innings, tying the game both times. The No. 56 came on an overhanging curveball from Nick Pivetta that landed in Boston’s bullpen, coming off the judge’s bat at 109.7 mph and traveling 383 feet, according to Statcast calculations.
“These pitches, they’re pretty slow,” Judge said. “You have to try to see it appear above the area and turn off the bad guy that looks like a heater.”
Then in the eighth, Judge was at it again, sending a Garrett Whitlock slider over the green monster in left field for No. 57. This one came off Judge’s bat at 100.5 mph, traveling 389 feet.
“Solo shots – obviously it looks awful, but we’ll take them as long as we stay in the game,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “He’s been amazing.”
This was Judge’s 10th multi-home run game of the season; Hank Greenberg holds the American League record with 11, set in 1938. Alex Rodriguez (2002) and Jimmie Foxx (1938) also had 10.
Judge’s 57 home runs are the most hit by a Yankee in 145 games, ahead of the rates set by Babe Ruth (56 in 1921) and Maris (55 in 1961). He reached base safely in 14 straight games and repeatedly in 12 of those contests (.479, 23 for 48, eight homers, 14 RBIs).
Most HRs in a season, MLB history – with totals over 142 team games:
2001 Barry Bonds: 73 — 60
1998 Mark McGwire: 70 — 59
1998 Sammy Sosa: 66 — 58
Judge Aaron 2022: 65 (current rate) – 57
1999 Mark McGwire: 65 — 55
2001 Sammy Sosa: 64 — 54
1999 Sammy Sosa: 63 — 59
1961 Roger Maris: 61 — 55
1927 Baby Ruth: 60 — 52
“If you check the numbers, you’re going to get caught,” Judge said. “I keep trying to do what I can do. The numbers will take care of themselves. If I have a good plan, a good approach, do what I have to do in the box – all those other things will appear.
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