Aaron Judge is taking his pursuit of history international.
The outfielder went 1-for-2 on Sunday night in the Yankees’ rain-shortened 2-0 victory over the Red Sox at the Stadium, but that “1’’ was a double, not a home run. That left Judge, who hit his 60th homer of the season Tuesday night to draw within one of the American League record set by Roger Maris in 1961, homerless in five straight games.
It also left the fans disappointed that he didn’t tie or break the record at home. Is Aaron Boone disappointed?
“No. We just went 6-0 on the homestand, he was right in the middle of all of it,’’ he said. “The script will play out. It’s the drama of sport. Things happen if and when they’re supposed to. You’re competing at the highest level, you can’t just push buttons to have things happen. So just proud of the way he’s handling it and continuing to be the central figure in us winning games.”
Judge will next take the field Monday night when the Yankees (94-58) start a three-game series in Toronto. The Yankees have won seven straight games and 15 of 19, and if they win Monday, they will clinch the AL East title.
“It’s a lot of fun,’’ Judge said. “I’m with the Yankees, in first place with a chance to clinch the division here in a couple days. There’s no better feeling. Just trying to soak in every single day with these guys, every single moment. Like I said, this is stuff you dream about as a kid. So it’s always fun.”
His family was at the Stadium during the homestand. Will they follow him to Toronto? “Oh, yeah,’’ he said. “They’re [my parents]. They’ve got nothing to do, so they better be there.”
Judge doubled to lead off the first inning against Brayan Bello, walked in the third and flied to center in the fifth. Boston’s Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-2 with a walk, leaving Judge as the American League batting average leader at .3143. Bogaerts is at .3137 and Minnesota’s Luis Arraez is at .3130.
Severe thunderstorms — which brought a deluge of rain that soon flooded the track surrounding the field and both dugouts — caused a delay at 9:15 p.m. as the Red Sox were coming to bat for the seventh. The game officially was called at 10:53.
Judge was due to lead off the bottom of the seventh, and Boone acknowledged that he was hoping to see one more Judge at-bat. “Yeah,’’ he said, “but I mean at the same time, I’m sitting and looking at the radar and not seeing the avenue to see that happen. So at that point, selfishly, we have a lead, you know it’s an official game and we’re traveling to Toronto. So if the radar is playing out how it looked to me, I’m more hoping they come to this decision.”
Boone was asked if part of him is hoping for Judge to hit two more homers just to get the circus over with. “I enjoy the circus,’’ he said. “Of course I want him to do it, but they’re [home runs] hard to come by, even for a guy that hits them a ton. It’s not that easy. And I have too much respect for the game and how difficult it is to play and hit and square balls up. So I just want him to continue to be in the place he’s in where he’s going up and just handling all this so well and continue to go out there and have winning at-bats. With him, you feel like eventually that’ll come, but I also don’t want to put any expectation on it. I feel like he’ll get there, and when he does, it’ll be amazing.”
Judge said it’s not hard to focus even though fans expect a home run every time up. “Not at all,’’ he said. “I think maybe the first game, at home, that was a little bit different because I didn’t expect that. Like you said, I’ve never been in this situation. But I think after the first game with Pittsburgh, I just kind of settled into ‘think of it as a postseason game, a playoff game,’ where fans are going crazy, they’re on their feet, they’re in on every pitch. When you have that kind of mindset that hey, it’s a playoff game, this is just another game I’m trying to help the team win. [That] kind of makes it easy to step in the box and lock it in.”
While Judge has been hands-down the Yankees’ offensive MVP, Nestor Cortes has been that for the 2022 rotation.
The lefthander has allowed three or fewer runs in 24 of his 27 starts and two or fewer earned runs in 20 of 27, and he again was terrific. He allowed one hit and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings.
Cortes (11-4, 2.56) was credited with a complete game — the first of the season for the Yankees.
Jose Trevino had a two-out RBI single in the fourth. With the rain coming down and two outs in the sixth, Red Sox rightfielder Rob Refsnyder dropped a fly ball, allowing Aaron Hicks to score from first for a 2-0 lead.
After the three games in Toronto, the Yankees will host the Orioles for three games and conclude the regular season with four games against the Rangers in Texas. Asked if he is disappointed that he didn’t tie or break the record during the homestand when he had five games to do so, Judge said: “You can’t think along those lines and it’s not our last home game, so I’m not too worried about it.”