The Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-4 on Thursday to seal their berth in the 2022 playoffs, but that achievement was overshadowed by Judge and his quest for greatness.
The right fielder nearly made history late in the ninth inning. The slugger’s connection seemed destined to hit the midfield net, but narrowly fell into Kiké Hernández’s glove.
“I’m just a little under,” Judge said after the game. “It was quite a windy night. I was hoping it was blowing. I missed it.”
With the Yankees through to the playoffs and the Red Sox having nothing to play for in the season other than pride, Judge will take center stage as he continues an incredible feat.
The 30-year-old already tied Babe Ruth’s tally over 90 years ago and could tie – or surpass – Maris’ 61-year-old record, sealing his place among the greatest hitters of all time.
“I keep saying it, Aaron Judge; everyone should just watch and take notice,” Yankees head coach Aaron Boone said earlier this week after Judge reached his 60th HR. “I can say that because I’ve been through that and he’s shown it: he’s focused on being a great teammate and winning. He knows everything else will happen on its own.”
The judge does not agree with this assertion. Last week he told Sports Illustrated: “Seventy-three is the record in my book. No matter what people want to say about that era of baseball, to me they went out there and hit 73 home runs and 70 home runs, and that to me is what the record is.
“[The] The AL record is 61, so that’s the one I can kind of try to achieve. If it happens, it happens. If not, it’s been a fun year so far.”
Despite his humble demeanor, Judge is poised to become a true New York Yankee great with this season’s historic offensive performance.
As Boone said, “I think that puts it a cut above. I have to believe it’s right there with some of the best really short season rosters ever.”
CNN’s Harry Enten contributed to this report.