BOSTON – Aaron Judge continues to close fast on a number he and his manager say is the furthest thing from the outfielder’s mind.
Judge hit his major league baseball-leading 56th and 57th homers Tuesday night against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and the slugger reaching 60-plus homers at this point not only seems highly likely but inevitable.
More important to Judge, who repeatedly has said his chase of Roger Maris’ franchise and American League record of 61 homers isn’t something he thinks about in the least, the Yankees rallied to take down the Red Sox, 7-6, in front of 34,250 at Fenway Park.
“It’s special and I feel very fortunate to be able to play on the same team with him and get to watch him play every day,” said Gerrit Cole, who allowed four runs and four hits, including three homers, over six innings in which he struck out 10 and walked two. “It’s one of the most historic offensive seasons of all time. Just couldn’t be happier for him and humbled to be a part of it.”
Gleyber Torres’ two-out, bases-clearing double in the 10th off former Met Jeurys Familia gave the Yankees a 7-4 lead. Clay Holmes, who pitched a scoreless ninth, left with two on and one out in the bottom half. Wandy Peralta allowed an RBI single to Alex Verdugo to make it 7-5 and threw a two-out wild pitch that made it 7-6. With the tying run at second, Peralta earned his fourth save in nine chances by striking out Rafael Devers.
With the Rays and Blue Jays splitting a doubleheader Tuesday in Toronto, the Yankees lead the Blue Jays by six games in the East and Tampa Bay by 6 1/2 .
Still, the night, as so many have been this season, was about Judge.
His blasts – an opposite-field shot off a first-pitch curveball from Red Sox righthander Nick Pivetta, which tied the score at 3-3 in the sixth, and a bomb to left over the Green Monster off Garrett Whitlock, which tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth – were part of a 3-for-4 night (including his MLB-leading 16th intentional walk) that made the American League MVP frontrunner 19 for his last 35 (.543).
“When we’re winning and in first place, it's always fun,” said Judge, again downplaying his homer total.
Judge, now hitting .310 for the season, leads his closest pursuer in the home run race, Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies, by 20.
“You really just don't look at it. If you're checking the numbers, you're gonna get caught,” Judge said. “So I just keep trying to do what I can do and the numbers will take care of themselves. If I have a good plan and have a good approach, do what I need to do in the box, all that other stuff will show up.”
His manager, Aaron Boone, simply said: “I'm out of adjectives” when it comes to Judge’s season.
“[It's] just amazing what he's doing,” Boone added.
The sixth-inning shot snapped a five-game homerless “drought” for Judge, who last month became just the 10th player in league history to reach the 50-homer plateau twice in his career.
Marwin Gonzalez added a two-run homer for the Yankees, who up until Torres’ three-run double into the gap in right-center, had scored all of their runs on homers.
Cole, who came in 7-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 career starts against the Red Sox, including 2-3 with a 7.13 ERA in five career starts at Fenway as a Yankee, continued along that track in career start No. 6 in this building.
“Just kept the team in the ballgame, pitched pretty well and [the Yankees] got a ‘W’ out of it,” said Cole, who has a 3.30 ERA and has struck out 228 batters in 177 1/3 innings this season. “So a pretty good night.”