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Aaron Judge of Yankees Heads to Toronto Stuck on 60 Homers


Over five days, nearly 200,000 fans flowed into Yankee Stadium hoping for one specific final result: Aaron Judge’s 61st home run of the season, which might have tied Roger Maris’s 61-year-old American League record. One hitter, one acceptable result. It’s a really strange method to watch a baseball game.

Judge didn’t do it on the homestand, and the Yankees left for Toronto after Sunday night’s rain-shortened 2-0 victory over Boston in six innings. As a substitute of history, Judge gave the fans a lesson in only how difficult it’s to homer on demand.

“They type of occur by accident,” said Judge, who doubled, walked and flied to left off the Red Sox rookie Brayan Bello. “I believe homers are more thrown than hit, to be honest. It really takes the suitable pitch, the suitable situation. It’s tough to explain, it just type of happens. That’s why I often just sprint out of the box.”

Judge got here to bat 21 times after smashing his sixtieth homer within the ninth inning on Tuesday against Pittsburgh. He reached base 10 times in those 21 plate appearances, which works out to a .476 on-base percentage. Babe Ruth’s profession mark was .474.

The remaining of the homestand, in other words, was still quite successful for Judge. After that sixtieth homer, he had three doubles, a single and 6 walks, with six strikeouts, 4 flyouts and a groundout. He also nailed a runner at second with an ideal throw from right field on Thursday and added to his major league lead in runs scored (125).

And, in fact, there was this: The Yankees won all of the games and carried a seven-game streak across the border. They need one victory over the Blue Jays to clinch the A.L. East, and Manager Aaron Boone was in no way disenchanted that Judge couldn’t match Maris before the trip.

“No — we just went 6-0 on the homestand,” Boone said. “He was right in the course of all of it. The script will play out. It’s the drama of sport: Things occur if and after they’re imagined to. You’re competing at the best level; you possibly can’t just push buttons to have things occur. Just happy with the best way he’s handling it and continuing to be the central figure in us winning games.”

The winning has returned for the Yankees after their summer malaise. They’ve won 11 of their last 13 games and 21 of their last 31, a stretch that followed a 3-14 slog through much of August.

Nestor Cortes Jr. — who got credit for his first profession shutout on Sunday — said Judge’s regular presence helped keep the Yankees from panicking last month.

“You may’t even notice that he’s about to hit his 61st homer,” Cortes said. “Contained in the clubhouse, behind the scenes, he’s the identical guy, and that’s what makes him so special. Whether he’s on a tear or he’s struggling, he’s the identical guy at all times and we feed off that energy, too — regardless of how good or bad you’re doing, we’ve got to maintain it level for each other guy in there. That’s type of how we weathered that rough patch — we tried to remain the identical, in neutral, on a regular basis.”

The Yankees will almost surely be the No. 2 seed within the postseason, meaning that their journey would start at home with a division series on Oct. 11, after the lower seeds play a recent best-of-three round. Recently they’ve been simulating tight playoff games, in a way, earning seven of their last nine victories in one- or two-run games.

“We’ve been in numerous tight games in the center and later a part of the games and keep finding ways to win,” Boone said. “And I feel like that’s something, on balance, we’ve done a great job of. Hopefully being in those sorts of games and having success in those sorts of games and moments is something that serves us well come the postseason.”

The Yankees have concerns. Their ace, Gerrit Cole, leads the A.L. in home runs allowed, with 31; they’ve several strong relievers but no set closer; two left-handed hitters (Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter) are injured, and so is DJ LeMahieu, a two-time batting champion.

But Judge has been a force through all of it, chasing not only Maris however the triple crown, which has been completed just once since 1967 (by Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012). Besides Judge’s runaway lead in homers and runs batted in (128), he finished Sunday’s game because the A.L. leader in batting average at .314, percentage points ahead of Boston’s Xander Bogaerts.

Judge also leads the Yankees in games played, with 148, and Boone gave him partial rest on Sunday through the use of him because the designated hitter. The Yankees have another scheduled off day within the regular season — on Thursday, before a weekend series within the Bronx against Baltimore and a season-ending series in Texas — but Judge isn’t quite ready for an additional.

“Oh, I’m playing till we clinch this division and put ourselves in a great spot,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be asking for any off-days.”

The Blue Jays will start Kevin Gausman, José Berríos and Mitch White on this week’s series, and Judge knows them well. He has hit .381 in his profession against them, with three homers off Gausman as a rookie in 2017 and a homer off Berríos this April. The Rogers Centre needs to be loud with the Blue Jays closing in on a wild-card berth, however the Yankees and Judge are used to that.

While a few of Judge’s at-bats looked as if it would unplug Yankee Stadium — you possibly can’t clap whenever you’re filming along with your cellphone — the park was also raucous at times, with piercing roars for each Judge fly ball. Again: good practice for October.

“After that first game against Pittsburgh, it settled in to simply consider it as a postseason game,” Judge said. “The fans are going crazy, they’re on their feet, they’re in on every pitch. When you might have that kind of mind-set that, ‘Hey, it’s a playoff game, that is just one other game, I’m attempting to help the team win,’ it type of makes it easier to step within the box and lock it in.”

When Judge does that, good things tends to occur. And good things, as he showed the previous couple of days, will not be limited to the one feat everybody craves.

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