For a long time, it felt like it was a matter of "when" and not "if". But over the last week, it was beginning to look a bit dicey for New York Yankee slugger Aaron Judge when it came to making some history by blasting his 61st home run of the season, tying Roger Maris' American League single-season record.
Judge had gone seven games since his last long ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates during their last homestand, when he tied Babe Ruth's single-season mark. The Bronx Bomber was blanked over the entire weekend series against the Boston Red Sox, and had been stifled through the first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Well, we needn't fret any longer.
Judge Goes Yard in Toronto for Legendary HR
In the seventh inning of their series (and season) finale with the Blue Jays, Judge took relief pitcher Tim Mayza, who had just come out of the bullpen to start the inning, over the left field wall to tie Roger Maris' American League single season home run record. The MLB record is currently held by former San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds (73). Only Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire have had more home runs in a single season. Of course, that trio all played during Major League Baseball's "steroid era", so there will likely be an endless debate when it comes to the true record-holder (assuming Judge gets one more to break the tie with Maris), given the specter of performance-enhancing drugs.
Aaron Judge Ties Roger Maris 61 Years Later
61 years since 61.
Aaron Judge has written his name alongside Roger Maris in baseball's record books. pic.twitter.com/1V4Gums34C
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 29, 2022
With seven regular season games remaining (three of which will be at Yankee Stadium), Judge should have plenty of at-bats to try and break the American League record that has stood since 1961. Should he accomplish the feat, it will put an exclamation point on what has been a tremendous season from the Yankees slugger - one which began with him turning down a massive contract offer and betting on himself to cash in. Not only is he on the precipice of passing Roger Maris' AL record, but Judge is also chasing a triple crown. Coming into play Wednesday night, Judge led the AL in home runs and RBIs (128), and was also on top in batting average (.314). While most of the focus has been on the home run chase, it's the triple crown that might be even more impressive.
Aaron Judge's mom and Roger Maris Jr. reacting to 61 ?
— ESPN (@espn) September 29, 2022
The last AL player to win one was Detroit Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Judge has been a prolific hitter all season long, essentially carrying the Yankees on his back. Without his season-long production, there's no telling where the Yankees might be in the AL East standings, but it's likely they wouldn't have clinched it yesterday. He's been in the conversation for AL MVP (along with Shohei Ohtani) most of the season. If Judge ends the regular season with the AL home run record and a triple crown, it'd be hard to argue against him winning MVP as well - even with how outstanding Ohtani has been yet again this year. No matter what may happen over the final week, the season that Aaron Judge has had in 2022 will be one for the record books.
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