Yankees' Aaron Judge sits in the dugout during a baseball...

Yankees' Aaron Judge sits in the dugout during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.  Credit: AP/LM Otero

ARLINGTON, Texas – After passing Roger Maris with his 62nd home run Tuesday night to set the American League single-season record, Aaron Judge said he was “hoping” to play in Wednesday’s regular-season finale.

“We’ll see what Skip has to say about that,” Judge said.

The outfielder said it with perhaps a knowing smile; knowing that after 55 straight starts, most of them in the cauldron of intensity created by his chase of Maris, “Skip” – meaning manager Aaron Boone – wasn’t going to have Judge anywhere but planted on the bench Wednesday afternoon.  

And, indeed, Boone told Judge shortly after Tuesday night’s clubhouse celebration recognizing both Judge’s record and Gerrit Cole’s – Cole struck out nine to make it 257 strikeouts, which surpassed Ron Guidry’s 1978 franchise single-season record 248 – that he would be bench-bound Wednesday.

“It was a short conversation,” Boone said.

Boone said that before the Yankees closed out the regular season with a 4-2 loss to the Rangers in front of 28,056 at Globe Life Field. In the ninth inning, what was left of the crowd began chanting “We want Judge!”

Those fans went home disappointed.

“Not today,” Boone said afterward. “You got plenty of him all year and hopefully we’ve got a lot left now in the postseason.”

Said Judge, with a smile: “I made my case. He (Boone) said I was down so I was down.”

Domingo German, headed to the bullpen for the postseason if he makes the roster, allowed four runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. Jose Trevino led the offense with two hits, including his 11th homer.

The Yankees, the AL East champions and seeded No. 2 in the upcoming AL playoffs, finished 99-63.

They will be off a full five days before opening the Division Series Tuesday night at the Stadium against the winner of this weekend’s wild-card matchup between the Rays and Guardians, with that best-of-three series taking place in Cleveland.  

The atmosphere at Globe Life Field for Wednesday afternoon’s contest, unsurprisingly, was dramatically different from that of the three games preceding it. Those three games mirrored the ones – both home and away – from the past two weeks as Judge closed in on 60 homers and beyond.

Once Judge set the mark, Boone couldn’t wait to get him some rest, something the manager has wanted to do for weeks. Boone pulled Judge in the bottom of the second inning Tuesday, with the outfielder receiving a big ovation from the crowd of 38,832 as he trotted from his position in right to the bench.

Judge, a free-agent-to-be, objectively turned in one of the greatest walk-year seasons any player, in any sport, has ever had.

In addition to leading the AL in homers and RBIs (131), Judge finished just short of the Triple Crown with a .311 batting average (Luis Arraez of the Twins went 1-for-2 Wednesday before being removed from the game and finished at .316).

“I think what Aaron's done certainly shoots to the top of the list, to witness a season that he just put out there,” Boone said of what he’ll most remember of the 2022 regular season from his perspective as manager. “We'll be talking about it forever and when we're all long gone. That's how special an individual season it's been.”

Special for other reasons as well, not the least of which was the Yankees capturing the East, the toughest division in the sport.

“I think for us overall, we're proud to be in this position,” Boone said. “We're proud to win the American League East. This is a bear of a division every year . . . So to survive that, to go through the highs of the first half where we raced out – nothing really went wrong the first few months – to really hitting a roadblock (for) about a six-week stretch there where we really struggled and were beat up and were injured.

"We've persevered through that and finished the season like we needed to to win the East, and now give ourselves a shot to go chase our dream of winning a championship.”

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