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The Aaron Judge Home Run Tracker: Game 135

Judge tied a Yankees record yesterday and did his part to keep pace with home run hitters of yore.

Dan Brink

Welcome back to the Aaron Judge Home Run Record Tracker! We’re taking a daily look at where Aaron Judge’s monster season tracks compared to some of the other historic single-season home run leaders in anticipation of Judge potentially joining their ranks. We’ll be going by Team Game because not every player’s seasons were in sync with the calendar days and everyone didn’t play all of the team’s games, which makes this our universal standard. Now, for Game 135:

Aaron Judge through Game 135 of 2022: 54 HR

Team Game 135: 9/5 — 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K

No. 99 played his part in a Labor Day win, homering for the third game in a row to reach tie Alex Rodriguez’s Yankees record for right-handed hitters with his 54th homer. The blow came on one of the fattest pitches that you’ll ever see, courtesy of Twins right-hander Trevor Megill. You can’t leave 88-mph sliders in the middle of the zone to a guy like Aaron Judge, who is now right up there with the home run paces of Mark McGwire, Roger Maris, and Sammy Sosa.

Roger Maris through Game 135 of 1961: 53 HR

Team Game 135: 9/2 — 3-for-4, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K

After failing to homer for a week, Roger Maris kicked the schneid in impressive fashion, as he launched a pair of homers against “Yankee Killer” Frank Lary and southpaw Hank Aguirre of the Tigers in a pivotal game during the 1961 American League pennant chase.

The ‘61 Yanks are remembered as one of the best teams in franchise history with 109 wins, but those Tigers were no joke — they won 101 on their own and began September within three games of New York. But Maris’ bombs were part of a big series for Ralph Houk’s ballclub, as they swept and the race was never close again.

Babe Ruth through Game 135 of 1927: 49 HR

Team Game 135: 9/8 — 0-for-1, 3 BB, 1 K

Babe Ruth’s former teammate, Sad Sam Jones, did not do The Bambino any favors in his pursuit of No. 60. He was walked in his first three plate appearances and hit a foul popup in the seventh, his only official at-bat. Lame! Pitching around Ruth only did so much though, as New York scored twice and leaned on Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt in a three-hitter for a complete-game win.

Barry Bonds through Game 135 of 2001: 57 HR

Team Game 135: 8/31 — 1-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K

It took Barry Bonds until his final at-bat in a listless 5-1 loss to the Rockies before the fans in San Francisco had anything to really cheer about in this game, but the man delivered. Bonds annihilated right-hander John Thomson’s final pitch of the night for No. 57, deep into McCovey Cove. That shot made him just the third player in National League history to reach that threshold, joining Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and passing longtime NL record holder Hack Wilson of the 1930 Cubs.

Mark McGwire through Game 135 of 1998: 54 HR

Team Game 135: 8/28 — 1-for-3, 1 2B, 2 BB, 2 K

The elder Fernando Tatis hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth off the Braves’ Kerry Ligtenberg to give Mark McGwire an extra plate appearance in his bid to reach 55 dingers, but it was not to be on this night. The 23-year veteran Dennis Martínez — “El Presidente” himself” — struck him out in the 10th to keep McGwire homerless; teammate Ron Gant walked it off two batters later.

Sammy Sosa through Game 135 of 1998: 53 HR

Team Game 135: 8/28 — 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB (IBB), 1 GIDP

Amusingly, the same Rockies pitcher who coughed up 2001 Bonds’ bomb in Game 135 gave up a homer to 1998 Sammy Sosa in Game 135 as well. On the earlier occasion, it happened in the very first inning — no surprise at Coors Field. That shot moved Sosa within one of McGwire, though he did not get any closer in his remaining at-bats.