Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees follows through on...

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees follows through on his 60th home run of the season in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 20, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac


Aaron Judge became the third player in American League history to reach 60 home runs when he hit a majestic blast into the left-centerfield bleachers in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.

Judge’s home run sparked the Yankees to an incredible walk-off 9-8 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Giancarlo Stanton’s grand slam before 40,157.

Judge tied Babe Ruth, who hit 60 in 1927. Next up: Roger Maris’ AL and Yankees record of 61 set in 1961.

Still, Judge maintained, “I don’t think about it. I don’t think about the numbers. When you talk about Ruth and Maris and [Mickey] Mantle and all these Yankees greats, there’s so many great things in this game. You never imagined as a kid getting mentioned with them. But it’s an incredible honor and something I don’t take lightly at all.”

The Yankees, who were trailing 8-4 when the ninth began, walked off five batters later on Stanton’s line-drive grand slam to left.

After Judge’s homer, Anthony Rizzo doubled, Gleyber Torres walked and Josh Donaldson singled to load the bases for Stanton.

Asked what he would remember most about the game in which he hit No. 60, Judge said: “Big G’s grand slam to win it.”

Stanton, who had nine hits in his previous 83 at-bats dating to July 16, said his first thought after hitting the 410-foot laser was: “It’s about damn time.”

It left his bat at 118 mph. Said Rizzo, "I don't know what the exit velocity on it was, but I hope whoever caught it had a glove on, because it was coming in hot.''

Judge was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout (with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth) and hadn’t gotten the ball out of the infield when he came up against righthander Wil Crowe leading off the ninth.

Crowe fell behind 3-and-1 before grooving a 95-mph sinker that Judge launched deep into the Bronx night. The ball left his bat at 111.6 mph and traveled an estimated 430 feet.

(Oddly enough, Crowe is the great-great nephew of Hall of Fame righthander  Red Ruffing, a Yankees teammate of Ruth's in the  early 1930s. Crowe visited Ruffing's plaque in Monument Park earlier in the day.)

After his trip around the bases, Judge accepted congratulations from teammates as fans called for a curtain call. He briefly stood on the top step of the dugout and waved his batting helmet.

The Yankees were losing, after all, and Judge has made it clear that he puts team accomplishments ahead of personal ones.

Asked who convinced him to step out of the dugout, Judge said: “The whole team and then Boonie [manager Aaron Boone], I think. I really don’t want to do it, especially [since] we’re losing, it’s a solo shot . . . I kind of joked around with Matt Carpenter earlier in the year. I think he had two homers in the game or something like that and he got a curtain call. I was like, ‘Man, I’ve been here for six years. I’ve only got one curtain call.’ I guess it takes hitting 60 to get another one.”

A reporter mentioned to Judge that Maris had to be coaxed out of the dugout by teammates after he passed Ruth with No. 61 on Oct. 1, 1961. Two of Maris’ sons — Roger Jr. and Kevin — were in the ballpark on Tuesday, and more of the late slugger's family members  are expected Wednesday.

Said Judge: “Just what I’ve seen from old videos and games, the guy was a great teammate. He never made it about himself. I know exactly the moment you’re talking about — kind of the team pushing him out there for the curtain call. That just shows you what type of leader and what type of player he was. Just hit a 61st, broke a big record at Yankee Stadium, I think it was maybe 20,000 people [23,154] and he went out there and gave a little curtain call. It shows you that he’s about the team, is always focused on that. I don’t know too much, but I’ll definitely do a little bit more research on that, for sure.”

The Yankees have 15 games left in the regular season. On Wednesday, in the conclusion of the two-game series, Pittsburgh will start 22-year-old rookie righthander Roansy Contreras, whom Judge has never faced.

Judge homered twice on Sunday in Milwaukee to get to 59. He is chasing Maris but also is chasing Barry Bonds, who holds the MLB record of 73 set in 2001. Judge's current pace projects to 66.

Judge also is vying to become the first player to win the Triple Crown in either league since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. On Tuesday, Judge moved into the lead in batting average (.316 to Boston’s Xander Bogaerts’ .315 and Minnesota's Luis Arraez's .314). Judge leads Houston's Yordan Alvarez by 23 homers and has 128 RBIs, 13 more than Cleveland's Jose Ramirez.

Guess what? He’s not thinking about that, either.

“I’m trying to enjoy it all and soak it all in,” Judge said. “But I know I’ve still got a job to do out on the field every single day. I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep preparing and stay mentally focused.”

Notes & quotes: Stanton's home run was the fourth ''ultimate grand slam'' in Yankees history and the team's second in about a month (an ultimate grand slam is defined as a player hitting a walk-off homer with the bases loaded and his team trailing by three runs).  Donaldson did it on Aug. 17 against the Rays. Jason Giambi (2002) and Ruth (1925) were the others. Stanton's was the only one that was not hit in extra innings. 

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