Well, it didn’t come today either. Aaron Judge actually saw more pitches in the zone today than it feels like he had in a while, he had an at-bat stolen by a terrible umpire call, but at the end, he finished the game still on 60 home runs. However, that was pretty much the worst news of the day, as Domingo Germán did his job, three Yankees went deep, and New York topped the Red Sox 7-5.
Aaron Judge saw three straight fastballs in the zone from Nick Pivetta, going down looking in the first inning. After four or five games of seeing junk, it may have caught the big slugger off guard to have a guy go right after him like that. Fortunately, in that same first inning, Gleyber Torres was a good teammate and picked up his leadoff hitter:
For all the consternation, much of it deserved, about Torres’ terrible August, the second baseman has consistently been a 125-130 wRC+ bat in every other month, and has 24 home runs on the season.
Oswaldo Cabrera chipped in with a home run of his own, a near carbon-copy of his blast from Wednesday, and one that gave the Yankees back the lead:
Germán had one of those starts again, where you think based on his pitch location that the floor should open up beneath him, but the final line was fine. He did give up back-to-back home runs to Triston Casas and Reece McGuire in the second inning, allowing the Red Sox to take the lead, but he was solid otherwise.
Five strikeouts in five innings is actually better than he’s done for the most part in this hot run, and a 46 percent whiff rate on his curve with a 36 percent rate on the four-seam showed that he really fooled the Red Sox for most of his outing. I don’t know what his postseason usage will be like, but you can’t really complain about the work he’s put in over the last two months.
Zack Britton made his first appearance in 13 months, and the less said about it the better. He very much looked like a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery, walking three Sox and giving up a hit to Xander Bogaerts. The final walk on his line took the lead down to 5-4, and Lou Trivino was called upon to get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. While he was able to do that, Lucas Luetge couldn’t hold on in the top of the seventh, allowing a pair of runners before Alex Verdugo tied the game with an RBI single.
In the Yankee half, after Aaron Hicks pinch-hit with a walk (pinch-walk?) Judge came up yet again, and again had a strong battle with the pitcher, reliever Jon Schreiber. With a fastball at the top of the zone, Judge appeared to check his swing only to be called out by the first base umpire, inserting himself into history.
However, like in the first inning, Judge’s teammates were able to pick him up:
Aaron Judge is the most important player to for the Yankees down the stretch, but getting Rizzo back to the hitter he was earlier in the season might be the second most important thing for the lineup. We’ve seen the way the offense can be shut down on days when Judge doesn’t carry the team, and with Gleyber looking back to normal, a healthy and effective Rizzo behind Judge makes pitching around him that much more dangerous.
Luetge’s troubles continued in the eighth, walking and allowing a hit before yielding to Clarke Schmidt, who himself got some help from the Yankees’ dazzling centerfielder:
Scott Effross continued the annoying-outing-from-Yankee-relievers today, allowing the first two men to come on in the ninth, and forcing us all to debate internally whether we’d trade a blown save for another Aaron Judge at-bat — #99 would have led off the bottom of the ninth. Effross eventually walked the bases loaded, but Bobby Dalbec bounced the ball to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who recorded the forceout at second to end the game.
That means Judge’s next chance for #61 will come on Sunday Night Baseball, tomorrow on ESPN at 7pm Eastern. Although there may not be a YES call for history, both David Cone on the regular broadcast and Michael Kay on the KayRod booth will be able to put their stamp on a potential, historic home run.