Tuesday night epitomized the epic season Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is authoring. With the Yankees down 8-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Judge led off the bottom of the 9th inning by blasting a solo home run to cut his team’s deficit to three runs. It was much more than a rally starter, it was a historic shot. The inning ended with Giancarlo Stanton blasting a walk-off grand slam and the Yankees celebrating a euphoric 9-8 win.
“[Judge] sparked all of us, helped us get the win,” said Stanton in a postgame interview on the YES Network. “He’s been doing it all year. And he’s not done. He’s gonna put on a show for all of us in here.”
Judge’s 60th homer tied him with the legendary Babe Ruth for the second most in the franchise’s long existence. It was founded in 1903 and in 1913 officially was named the Yankees. Roger Maris hit 61 homers in 1961, eclipsing Ruth.
“To get a chance to play baseball at Yankee Stadium, packed house, first-place team, that’s what you dream about,” Judge joyfully expressed. “I love every second of it. Even when we were down, you don’t like losing, but I knew top of the lineup coming up, we got a shot to come back here and do something special. I’m trying to enjoy it all, soak it all in, but I know I still got a job to do out on the field every single day.”
Throughout Judge’s assault on Major League Baseball’s record book, the 30-year-old from the city of Linden in Northern California has repeatedly stated that in his perspective his home runs only have added meaning if they contribute to a Yankees’ win. Many have, as Judge has carried them to an 88-59 mark, 5.5 games in front of the second place Toronto Blue Jays when they hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates last night (Wednesday) in the Bronx before beginning a four-game series at home against the Boston Red Sox tonight.
The Yankees have 14 games remaining, which leaves Judge with ample time to catch and surpass Barry Bonds’ all-time record of 73 homers, achieved in the 2001 season. There are a plethora of the game’s fans and media that do not recognize Bonds’ record due to allegations he used steroids during an era in which performance enhancement drug use was rampant.
Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa also exceeded Maris’ 61 but like Bonds are part of the so-called steroid generation. So, the debate will rage as to who is the legitimate home run king. For now, Judge will leave the argument to others while he focuses on leading the Yankees into the postseason and a possible World Series championship.