Ever since the Yankees wrapped up the AL East and had their exact spot in the playoff bracket locked in, all focus has turned to Aaron Judge and his pursuit of a 61st and then 62nd home run.
After going more than a week in between home runs 60 and 61, Judge also had a long homerless run as he pursued his 62nd long ball. In recent games, he very much seemed to be pressing, doing some things he hadn’t otherwise done over his journey in this incredible, MVP-level season. Following another homerless game in the opener of this doubleheader, the chase was really getting into crunch time with just two contests left in the regular season.
After the days and games of waiting, Judge didn’t wait too long into this one to finally reach his milestone. On the third pitch of the game, he took a Jesús Tinoco pitch 391 feet to left field. He had finally reached No. 62, officially taking his place as the all-time single season home run leader for the both the American League and the Yankees.
There was still plenty of baseball to be played after that, but that wasn’t as fun. Although Gerrit Cole reached a notable landmark himself, his trend of having one or two bad moments that ruin an otherwise solid performance continued. Plus, after Judge’s homer, the Yankees’ offense seemed to be a bit eager to get the game over with so that they could begin to party. The history made in this game is still the big story for the Yankees, but it did end in a 3-2 loss to the Rangers.
Following Judge’s moment, Cole made his own history in the first inning. When Nathaniel Lowe was ruled to have gone around on a 3-2 count, Cole recorded his 249th strikeout of the season. That gave him sole possession of the Yankees’ franchise record for strikeouts in a single season, surpassing Ron Guidry’s 1978.
Unfortunately, Texas then tied the game in the next at-bat. Before Cole’s record-breaking strikeout, Marcus Semien had led off the game for Texas with a single and then stole second. That allowed him to score when Adolis García added another single.
Judge got one more at-bat before Aaron Boone took him out so he could get a nice ovation before the bottom of the second. Between his home run chase and the Yankees battling for the division/the playoffs, Judge had made 55 consecutive starts. He certainly deserves some rest as our full attention now turns to the playoffs.
After that, there were no records or runs for a little while. That was broken when Giancarlo Stanton added a solo shot in the fifth inning to put the Yankees back in front.
Stanton’s 378th career homer (and 31st of 2022) put him in a tie with Matt Williams for 75th all-time in baseball history.
The lead did not last very long, however. With one out and a runner on after a Josh Donaldson error, Leody Taveras gave Cole his obligatory home run for the game, inching the Rangers ahead. Cole ended up making it through six innings, having allowed two earned runs (three in total) on six hits with nine strikeouts. Clarke Schmidt replaced him and threw two perfect innings to keep the Yankees theoretically with a chance.
However, the Yankees offense couldn’t muster much of anything after Stanton’s home run. Texas pitching retired 14 of the next 15 Yankees’ hitters, with only a Isiah Kiner-Falefa walk providing any resistance over the last couple innings. That didn’t end up being enough.
If the Yankees want a 100th win on the season, they’re going to have to do it tomorrow in the regular season finale. Despite that, at least the truly memorable landmark is out of the way. Domingo Germán will face former Yankees farmhand Glenn Otto in Game 162 at 4:05pm ET.