“Roger, over and out,” is a phrase that is used by radio operators to acknowledge receipt of a transmission. It’s also a phrase that aptly describes what is likely to happen.
Roger is Roger Maris, whose reign as the American League’s single season home run record holder will soon be over, once Aaron Judge transmits a few more baseballs out of the ballpark.
Judge moved closer to the coveted mark with two home runs to give him 59 on the season as he powered the Yankees to a 12-8, come from behind, slugfest win against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.
Judge is not only hitting home runs during this remarkable season. He was 4 for 5 with three runs scored and four runs batted in to lead the Yankees to an important win. In September, the leading candidate for the AL MVP is slashing a ridiculous .491/.578/1.018 with an OPS of 1.596 with 8 HRS, 18 runs scored and 14 RBIs in 15 games.
Judge is now batting .316 (one point behind Minnesota’s Luis Arraez at .317) with 59 home runs and 127 RBI’s. The talk of a Triple Crown is legit and Judge’s teammates are enjoying the ride.
“Its historical, I got nothing else for you,” starter and winner Gerrit Cole said. “It’s the greatest off season that I’ve personally ever witnessed. It’s wonderful. I’m riding it dude, it’s amazing.”
Anthony Rizzo was a welcome sight, back to the lineup for the first time since August 31. The Yankees first baseman batted second behind Judge and had three hits including his 31st home run. Rizzo, who looked he hadn’t skipped a beat, combined with Judge to go 7 for 11, with five runs scored, three home runs, five runs batted in.
“That was huge. It was good to see him up there, be able to get his swing off. He looked like he was under control, great having him back in there,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said, sounding as if he’s a little under the weather.
Milwaukee’s Willy Adames, who has plagued the Yankees before while he was in Tampa, hit a three run home run off of Cole in the first inning, but Oswaldo Cabrera got a run back in the second when he hit his second home run of the season.
Cole was facing a home run hitting team and the Brewers lived up to their scouting report as they upped their lead to 4-1 on Tyrone’s Taylor’s home run.
Cole gave up four runs in five innings and low leads the American League with 29 home runs given up. The right hander also had eight strikeouts and is leading the Major Leagues with 236 Ks. He’s also 12 shy of Ron Guidry’s 1978 single season franchise record of 248.
With one out in the third, Judge hit HR #58 off of Brewers starter Jason Alexander to narrow the gap to 4-2. Rizzo went back to back and the Yankees trailed 4-3.
The Yankees took lead with four runs in the fifth.
With the bases loaded and one out, Giancarlo Stanton reached when Brewers’ second baseman Kolten Wong missed second base and Judge, who had walked, scored to tie the game. Cabrera drove in the go ahead run with an infield single and Kyle Higashioka added a two out, two run single to give the Yankees a 7-4 lead.
The Yankees extended the lead in the seventh. Cabrera, who also had three hits, doubled to lead off the inning. After taking third, the Yankee rookie scored on a ground out.
The struggling Aaron Hicks, who was hitting ninth, homered and the Yankee slugger went back to back with his 59th home run off Brewers pitcher Luis Perdomo to give the Yankees a 10-4 lead. Judge came up in the ninth with his first shot at hitting #60 but he capped off his tremendous day with a two run double to give the Yankees a 12-6 lead.
“Two outs, I’m just trying to drive guys in,” Judge said.
It was the 11th multi-home run game for Judge, tying him with Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg in 1938 and Sammy Sosa in 1998. “He’s like 4 for 5, 3 for 5, 2 for 3, like two walks, like every night. Like 2 for 4, walk every night and then when he starts to click, he hits them [home runs] in bunches,” Cole said.
It’s always been team first with Judge, but he’s been consistent in his message.
“My focus is to go out there and win a game,” he said. “Numbers, they’re just numbers. I’m focused on doing what I can to be a good teammate, help the team win. If that means hitting a homer, then it means hitting a homer. It’s never been my focus, never been my main objective when I play this game.”
The Brewers made things a little scary for the Yankees in the ninth. After cutting the deficit to four on a two run double by pinch hitter Jace Pederson, Milwaukee had the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate with one out, but Clay Holmes struck out Luis Urias and got the final out on a ground out by Keston Hiura.
Yankees snapped a modest two game losing streak and now head home for a six game homestand that may be a memorable one with Judge’s pursuit of Maris’ record. Maris hit home run #61 off of Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard. Boston comes in for four later this week.
There’s a lot more on the line beside Judge chasing a record. First and foremost, the Yankees have a magic number of 11 to clinch the American League East, and, of course, the American League’s MVP award.
“I understand there’s gonna be a story line the next two weeks on who deserves the MVP but this hasn’t been done in this era,” Rizzo said. “Someone chasing sixty-one, clean like this and no, really question marks on what’s going on in the game.”
Tuesday night’s game and any succeeding games should be a hot ticket.
“It should be really special. Obviously, we’re in a pennant chase and Judge sitting where he is, so there’s going to be that added buzz every time he comes up,” Boone said.
Cole sounded like he wanted to sit with the fans when he said, “They’re gonna be like over the edge, slapping the [rails] and beer’s gonna be flying everywhere. It’s probably not gonna be a child friendly environment in the bleachers, it’s gonna be nuts.”