NEW YORK — Only five players in major league history have hit 60 home runs in a season — that is, until New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hit a single on Tuesday night. Baseball vs. Pittsburgh Pirates join this exclusive club.
The judge opened a sinker for right-hander Will Crow from the final inning, driving it 430 feet into the left bleachers, sparking a 9-8 five-inning ninth-inning rally.
Under the pressure of his teammates, he made a rare curtain call.
“I really don’t want to do that, especially, we’re losing. It’s a single shot,” he said.
“He played 60 tonight like nothing happened. He has more work to do,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who finished a game-ending major.
The All-Star outfielder is now just one homer away from tying Roger Maris’ 1961 AL record of 61 homers in a single season, a 37-year major league record.
With his 60th homer, the 6-foot-7 judge tied Babe Ruth (1927) for eighth on the single-season homer list.
It came from a pitcher whose uncle, Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, was Ruth’s teammate on the Yankees in the 1930s. Before the game, Crowe visited Ruffin’s plaque at Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park.
“[Judge] Did what he was supposed to do,” Crowe said, “3-1 count, I’m not going to let him play. I feel like I want to catch up with him. Going out, coming back again. He swings well on bad courses. “
Roger Maris Jr. and the former player’s son, Kevin Maris, were present. A specially marked ball is used each time the judge walks to the plate. Fans in the outfield seats stood up, each foul ball causing many to groan.
“I have to believe it’s out there, with some of the best, very short-season roster in history, what he’s doing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said earlier of the judge’s nightly chase of baseball history. “Our focus is obviously on winning and what we have at stake as a team. But out of that, looking at what he’s doing, you definitely realize what a special season you’re going to witness.”
There are now nine 60-homer seasons in MLB history, completed by six different players. The judges join Hall of Famers Ruth and Maris, as well as Barry Bonds (2001), Mark McGwire (1999, 1998) and Sammy Sosa (2001, 1999, 1998).
Judge’s 59 home runs are already the most by a right-handed hitter in AL history. Judge has also joined Ruth (four) and Mitch Mantle (two) as the third member of the legendary Yankees to wear the pinstripes to have multiple 50-hour seasons.
Judges also took over the Triple Crown lead on Tuesday night, with Minnesota Twins first baseman Luis Arraez dropping to .314 with a .316 batting average into the AL lead. Judge nearly leads the league in home runs and RBIs (128), and he has a shot at becoming the 11th player to win a triple since the RBIs were officially established in 1920.
He is the first player to lead all three categories in September or later since Miguel Cabrera won the treble in 2012, and since 1956, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau Mantle is the first Yankees to do so since winning the Triple Crown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.