New York Yankees‘ slugger Aaron Judge on Sunday hit his second home run in as many days against the Tampa Bay Rays, and in doing so upped his total for the season to a career-best 53 homers. The Yankees eked out a much-needed win in the series finale by a score of 2-1.
Judge’s latest blast also means he’s now just eight home runs from tying Roger Maris’ 1961 franchise and American League record of 61 homers in a season.
The home run on Sunday, which came in the first inning, means that Judge is now on pace for 64 this season. Here’s a look:
Judge, batting leadoff in Aaron Boone’s lineup, sent that 1-0 Shawn Armstrong sinker 450 feet, and it left the bat at 115.3 mph. Like most Judge clouts, there was nothing cheap about it. It’s also Judge’s fourth home run in his last six games.
While Judge is customarily hot, the remainder of the Yankee bats are not, broadly speaking. Coming into Sunday’s series finale, the Yankees had managed a total of just three runs over their previous three games, and now that tally is just five runs in four games. On Sunday, Judge scored both Yankee runs, and Yankee hitters not named Judge went just 3 for 30. On the upside, deadline addition Frankie Montas finally turned in a strong start, as he twirled five scoreless innings with only one hit allowed and seven strikeouts against zero walks. Montas entered Sunday with a 7.01 ERA through his first five starts with the Yankees.
The win, however, didn’t come easy, as the Rays in the bottom of ninth squared up closer Clay Holmes time and again and had the potential winning run in scoring position when a highly questionable full-count called strike three bailed out Holmes and the Yankees to end it.
As recently as July 8, the Yankees held a 15 1/2-game lead in the division, but even with Sunday’s win the lead over the Rays is now just five games. These two teams will meet again for a key three-game series in the Bronx that starts Friday.