The Yankees had been held scoreless for 19 consecutive innings over two games by the pitching staff of the Seattle Mariners when a three-run outburst briefly put them ahead in Wednesday’s game in Seattle. In the middle of that rally? Aaron Judge, who hit the first pitch he saw from the reliever Penn Murfee into the left field stands for his 45th homer of the season.
Judge raised his average to .304 with the blast and collected his 99th run batted in of the season, continuing his march to what would be his first American League Most Valuable Player Award.
As Judge pursues the Yankees’ single-season home run record — every non-Yankee who has hit at least 60 home runs has been connected to performance-enhancing drugs — we are tracking his progress against where Roger Maris was at in 1961 (when he hit 61) and where Babe Ruth was at in 1927 (when he hit 60).
Through 112 Team Games:
Judge: 45 | Maris: 41 | Ruth: 36
No. 45 — Leaving in a Hurry
There was no doubt about whether Judge’s blast in the seventh inning of an afternoon game in Seattle would be a home run. He swung at the first pitch he saw in the at-bat, sending it 105 miles per hour off his bat and into the stands in left field.
No. 44 — Back in Business
After a week without a home run, Judge got a slider on the outside of the plate and muscled it over the wall in center, with the ball disappearing into the batter’s eye at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
No. 43 — New Month, Same Hitter
Judge hit 13 home runs in July and he started August the same way, homering on the first pitch of his second at-bat of the month. “It’s fun watching what he’s doing right now,” Manager Aaron Boone said of Judge, who was on pace for 67 home runs this season after Monday’s blast. “So I think obviously that was part of his game plan tonight, being aggressive. Got what he was looking for in the first couple of at-bats and put great swings on it.”
No. 42 — Second Fastest to 200
A day after Judge robbed M.J. Melendez of a home run with a sensational catch, Melendez was at the wall in right watching a fly ball from Judge just barely make it over the fence for a home run. Judge became the second-fastest player in major league history to reach 200 home runs, doing it in his 671st game — Ryan Howard, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies, did it in 658 games. “I feel like the big numbers, it’s always tough to get past those,” Judge said. “To get that out of the way, plus a win, is pretty sweet.”
Nos. 40 and 41 — In Grand Fashion
After robbing M.J. Melendez of a home run in the first inning, Judge hit a two-run homer in the third for his 40th. Five innings — and one rain delay — later, he went deep again, this time with the bases loaded. He finished the game 3 for 5 with 6 R.B.I. “Just takes the magic wand and does his thing,” Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said of Judge.
No. 39 — A Walk-Off Against Kansas City
“It doesn’t cease to amaze the season he’s putting together,” Manager Aaron Boone said of Judge’s ninth-inning homer off Scott Barlow that gave the Yankees their only run of the day — and a walk-off win at home. Boone added: “Just gets a pitch and to put it up in the air where he did is just, not many people can hit it like that and ride it out like he did.”
No. 38 — Back-to-Back With Rizzo (Again)
Judge and Anthony Rizzo hit back-to-back homers in the top of the first inning, but the Mets answered with four runs in the bottom of the first and cruised to a 6-3 victory.
No. 37 — Trying to Raise His Average
“I saw a lot of the greats — Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera — they always hit above .300 and the power just came with it,” Judge said after raising his average for the season to .294. “That’s always been a goal of mine to hit above .300 and we’ll keep working towards it.”
Nos. 35 and 36 — Beating Up on Tyler Wells
“It doesn’t help when you throw it down the middle to him,” Tyler Wells said of Judge, who got “M-V-P” chants despite the game being played in Baltimore. “The first home run I gave to him, I was trying to go up there, and just didn’t get it in enough. The second one, he just took a pitch right down the middle and he hit a long way.”
No. 34 — Riding the Rails
Judge’s three-run home run in the ninth landed on the train tracks above the wall in left field at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, but that wasn’t enough against the Astros, as the Yankees lost, 7-5.
Nos. 32 and 33 — Heating Up
“It’s incredible,” Judge said when told he was on pace for 59 home runs with one game left before the All-Star break. “We still got one more day. Don’t cut me short now.”
No. 31 — Not Enough Against Cincy
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Judge said of the right-handed starter Luis Castillo after he allowed just one run in seven innings and the Reds beat the Yankees in the 10th. “He just didn’t leave too many mistakes for us to hit. When you have 100 and you’re painting the corners, that’s in for a tough day.”
No. 30 — Ending a Drought?
“It’s hard for me to relate to that,” Manager Aaron Boone, whose career-high was 26 home runs in 2002, said of Judge ending a five-game homerless streak to hit No. 30 in a 16-0 win against Pittsburgh. “So it’s been pretty impressive, whatever — halfway in here — the kind of baseball he’s playing. Obviously the power has been right there.”
No. 29 — Record or Ring?
“It’d be great if it happened,” Judge said of the concept of hitting 62 home runs this season. “It’ll be something that’s pretty cool, but I think having a ring on my finger at the end of the year would be even better.”
No. 28 — A Walk-Off Against Houston
“I told him I have to quit taking him for granted,” Manager Aaron Boone said after Judge hit a three-run home run in the 10th inning to give the Yankees a huge win over Houston.
Nos. 26 and 27 — Rising to the Challenge
Judge’s 22nd career multihomer game helped offset a wildly hot Isaac Paredes, who had homered four times in two games for the Rays.
No. 25 — Even the Short Homers Count
When asked what powered the Yankees to a 13th straight win at home, Judge said, “The fans. They’re loud, they’re on their feet all game, from the very first pitch they’re there and then the top of the ninth they were screaming.” Also helping: The short homer Judge hit against Shane McClanahan, a favorite for the American League Cy Young Award, would not have cleared the fence in any other stadium.
Nos. 23 and 24 — Starting Off Right
“It’s fun, I don’t mind leading off,” Judge said after hitting his second career leadoff homer. “It doesn’t matter if I’m leading off or hitting second.”
No. 22 — Team Effort
“Nobody has to feel like they’ve got to do everything,” Judge said after he and Giancarlo Stanton homered in the same game for the 23rd time in five seasons. “Hey, if we don’t get a hit or get the job done that time, I know the guy behind me is going to pick it up.”
No. 21 — First Batter, First Run
A leadoff home run set the tone in the Yankees’ fifth win in a row.
No. 20 — First to 20 Homers
Judge became the first player in the majors this season to reach 20 homers, with his third-inning blast landing just in front of the Judge’s Chambers cheering section in right field.
No. 19 — Was Ohtani Tipping Pitches?
“They’re really good at reading pitchers,” Joe Maddon, the Angels’ manager at the time, said after Shohei Ohtani allowed three home runs against the Yankees, including one to Judge. “They’re very good at it.”
No. 18 — Coming Up Short in Tampa
Serving as the team’s designated hitter, Judge had two hits, including a homer in the eighth, but it was not enough in a 4-2 loss.
Nos. 16 and 17 — When Two Is Not Enough
“It’s really special,” Manager Aaron Boone said after Judge’s 20th career multihomer game. “I sometimes take it for granted but not right now. He’s a really special player and obviously really carrying us offensively.”
No. 15 — Keeping the Yankees in the Game
Judge’s eighth-inning home run briefly tied the game, but Chicago scored two runs in the ninth to win.
Nos. 13 and 14 — A Game of Adjustments
“I learned my lesson and decided to go to right field after that,” Judge said after his first-inning blast went 399 feet but was stopped by a new wall in left field at Camden Yards.
No. 12 — Teaming Up With Stanton
“We got torched,” White Sox Manager Tony La Russa said after Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both homered for the Yankees. “It was almost always we missed our location. You would see the catcher setting up the pitcher in a different place, and missing. That’s what a hitter is supposed to do. They punished it.”
No. 11 — Going (Very) Deep
“You know if you don’t get it done, the guy in front of you or behind you will,” Giancarlo Stanton said in a game in which he, Judge and Josh Donaldson all homered. “It’s good, it lets you kind of get deep into your at-bat and not rush your plan and try to execute best as possible.”
No. 10 — Tenth Homer, First Walk-Off
“It’s a weird feeling,” Judge said after hitting a walk-off homer against Toronto. “You hear the crowd going crazy and you see the bench, you see guys jumping over the railing. A special moment you get to share with them.”
No. 9 — Beating a Rival
“It definitely pumped some life into us,” Manager Aaron Boone said of Judge’s 427-foot shot.
Nos. 7 and 8 — A ‘Monster’
“What can I say?” pitcher Luis Severino asked of Judge, who homered in the first and ninth innings. “The guy’s a monster.”
No. 6 — A Three-Run Bomb
“It was a close game,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “We get out of the gates with three runs, but it was 3-2 going into the seventh. There were some really good at-bats that set that up.”
No. 5 — Taking Advantage of Miscues
Judge’s fifth homer of the season came after a costly series of errors by Baltimore. “Whenever you get extra outs in a baseball game, you always want to cash in on those,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.
No. 4 — Happy Birthday
Judge joined Lou Gehrig and Jerry Mumphrey as Yankees to homer on their 30th birthdays.
Nos. 2 and 3 — A Big Big Night
“Judgy kind of had that look in his eye tonight,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “Sometimes he tells me he’s got us, but he kind of gave me that look right before the game, like: ‘I got this.’”
No. 1 — On the Board
Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres and Judge all homered, but it wasn’t enough in a Yankees loss. Judge’s first homer of the year came in the Yankees’ seventh game.