MILWAUKEE — History awaits Aaron Judge.
History that is very likely to be made this week in the Bronx.
Judge crushed his 58th and 59th home runs Sunday afternoon in the Yankees’ 12-8 victory over the Brewers, leaving him two away from the American League and franchise record of 61 hit by Roger Maris in 1961.
He came up in the ninth with a chance at No. 60 and merely hit a two-run double on one hop off the leftfield wall. Nevertheless, Judge passed Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg (both with 58) on Sunday and now has hit the most home runs in a season by any righthanded batter in American League history.
The Yankees (88-58) are off Monday before starting a six-game homestand Tuesday against the pitching-deficient Pirates, with the just-as-pitching-deficient Red Sox to follow.
Judge, who has hit 13 home runs in his last 24 games, is on a pace that projects to 65 homers. In the last 14 games, he is 27-for-53 with 13 walks and has a .509/.597/1.057 slash line with eight home runs, five doubles, 18 runs scored and 14 RBIs.
Is it difficult to push this stuff aside with everyone else talking about it? “It’s not too difficult if your main objective and your main focus is to go out there and win a game,’’ he said. “If my focus is to go out there and win a game, 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. But it’s never been my focus, it’s never been my main objective when I play this game.”
Judge, who leads the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber by 20 homers and has the MLB lead with 127 RBIs (12 more than the Mets’ Pete Alonso), has a very legitimate shot to win the AL Triple Crown. Robbed of an extra-base hit his first time up on a 115.4-mph bullet to deep center, he went 4-for-5 and upped his batting average to .3162, just behind Minnesota’s Luis Arraez at .317 and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts at .3164.
“It’s amazing,’’ Anthony Rizzo said. “Miggy [Miguel Cabrera] was the last one to do it and the numbers he put up were astronomical [.330, 44 homers, 139 RBIs in 2012] and Aaron’s blowing that away right now. We haven’t seen it in this game in a long time, and for him to be doing in this era of baseball, it’s incredible.”
Judge was involved in two sets of back-to-back home runs.
He launched his first homer with one out in the third, a towering 414-foot drive off Jason Alexander into the second deck in right that cut the Yankees’ deficit to 4-2. Rizzo (three hits), activated earlier in the day after not appearing in a game since Aug. 31 because of lower-back issues and headaches, then hit his 31st to make it 4-3.
Judge’s second blast came in the seventh on a hanging 1-and-2 slider thrown by Luis Perdomo, which made it 10-4. His 443-foot shot to leftfield prompted Perdomo to throw up his arms in frustration and was so much of a no-doubter that leftfielder Christian Yelich barely moved. That immediately followed Aaron Hicks’ 410-foot shot.
Did Judge notice that the baseballs were being swapped out before his ninth-inning at-bat in the event he hit No. 60? “I didn’t even notice,'' he said. "I’m locked in on the pitcher, the situation, doing my routine and going to work.”
Oswaldo Cabrera, who had three hits and a walk and finished a triple shy of the cycle, hit the Yankees’ first homer of the day, a 420-foot shot to centerfield in the second.
The offensive firepower to a degree overshadowed another up-and-down outing by Gerrit Cole, who allowed four runs, four hits and three walks in five innings in which he struck out eight. Two of the hits were homers, making it 29 allowed in 182 1⁄3 innings by Cole, the second-most in the big leagues.
The Yankees eventually turned a 4-1 deficit into 10-4 and 12-6 leads, but the Brewers scored twice in the ninth against Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes and had the tying run at the plate with one out before Luis Urias struck out with the bases loaded and Keston Hiura grounded out to end it.
Cole put the Yankees in a three-run deficit in the first, his troubles in the 29-pitch inning starting with a one-out walk to Willy Adames and a two-out walk to Hunter Renfroe. Kolten Wong then blasted a three-run homer. In the second, Tyrone Taylor hammered a 0-and-2, fastball to center for his 17th homer and a 4-1 Brewers lead.
Cabrera had a broken-bat RBI single and Kyle Higashioka banged a two-out, two-run single back up the middle during a four-run fifth that made it 7-4. Cole allowed runners to reach second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth but struck out Rowdy Tellez and Renfroe swinging at 101-mph fastballs.
The homers by Hicks and Judge capped a three-run seventh that gave the Yankees a 10-4 lead. Tellez hit a two-run homer off Clarke Schmidt in the eighth, but Judge’s two-run double in the ninth made it 12-6.
Cole said of Judge’s season: “Sorry to repeat the same line, but it’s historical. I’ve got nothing else for you. It’s the greatest offensive season I’ve personally ever witnessed. I don’t know what else to say. I’m riding this [the emotions of it]. It’s amazing.”
The atmosphere at the Stadium this week as Judge pursues 61? “They’re [fans] going to be like over the edge [of the wall], slapping the [walls], and beer’s going to be flying everywhere,’’ Cole said with a laugh. “It’s probably not going to be a child-friendly environment in the bleachers. It’s going to be nuts.”