New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hits 61st home run of season, tying Roger Maris’ mark

TORONTO — New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, equaling Roger Maris’ American League record.

It took Maris until October 1, the last game of the 1961 season, to get his 61st finish, surpassing Babe Ruth’s mark of 60 home runs in a 1927 season.

The judge did it on September 28 in game #155 for New York. A day after the Yankees won the American League East title, Judge, who hit leadoff as designated hitter, beat Toronto’s Tim Mayza with a runner on base deep in the seventh inning. Judge – who went at-bat in his first, jumped out in his second and was grounded in his third – had gone seven games without a home run since hitting just a solo shot in the 6-0 homestand in New York.

He and the Yankees then made their way to Toronto to make history at the Rogers Center. He went 1-on-3 with a singles in Monday’s series opener and went four times in the division clincher on Tuesday before finally firing the historic shot on Wednesday.

The seven-game homerless drought was a rare occurrence for the select few to hit such homerun heights. Of the previous seven instances in which a player hit 61 home runs, four had hit that mark in the next game after hitting 60, and none took more than three games to hit the milestone.

Judge finally arrived in the series finale with Roger Maris Jr. and Judge’s mother sitting in the front row of the Yankees’ dugout. And now the only players in MLB history with more home runs in a season are Barry Bonds (73), Mark McGwire (70, 65) and Sammy Sosa (66, 64, 63) – all of whom hit theirs while on steroids era (1998-2001).

The judge’s 2022 tear was conducted with no evidence of performance-enhancing drugs used by the Yankees slugger, which manager Aaron Boone believes puts the All-Star outfielder’s numbers above the rest.

“I think it takes it up a notch,” Boone said last week. “I have to believe it’s right there with some of the best, very short lists of all time. “I’m going back to the context of the season and the more I look at it and delve into it, it has to be an all-time great season.”

At one point, Judge’s blistering home run pace matched Bonds’ record-breaking 2001 season, but with less than two weeks of games remaining, it’ll take him a huge boost to get close to that mark.

Maris’ 61 is considered by many to be a “clean” home run record. Judge, a native of Northern California who has called Bonds the “greatest hitter of all time,” doesn’t discount his accomplishments.

“That’s the record,” said Judge, who graduated from Linden High School in San Joaquin County, about an hour and a half east of San Francisco Bay. “I watched him do it. I stayed up late and watched him do it. That’s the record. Nobody can take that away from him.”

For his part, Bonds said over the weekend he could see Judge hitting a home run streak after following his 61st.

“Trying to get that 61 is the hardest thing,” Bonds said on the KayRod cast on ESPN2 during Sunday Night Baseball. “Trying to get there. Once he achieves it, he’ll likely hit five or six in a row after that. But trying to get there, that’s the hardest part, this 61 will be the hardest part. It’s a big moment on the 61st.

The Yankees are hoping for more big moments next month. At times it seems like they ran away from the American League pack before stumbling through August, and New York seems destined for the AL’s No. 2 postseason behind the Houston Astros. The division title was the first in New York since 2019 and 20th overall in franchise history.

Judge was a big reason for the crown, and it was more than just home runs. He competed Wednesday and led the AL in batting average, home runs and RBI as he aims to become the third Yankees player to win the Triple Crown (Lou Gehrig 1934, Mickey Mantle 1956).

The judge’s homer gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead, and they went out with a 6-3 edge at the end of the inning. The ball was retrieved by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann after jumping into the Toronto bullpen. New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hits 61st home run of season, tying Roger Maris’ mark

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