On the anniversary of Roger Maris breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961, Aaron Judge barely got a chance to become the Yankees’ single-season home run champ.
That’s because the Orioles, who were eliminated from playoff contention when the Mariners won on Friday night, barely threw him any pitches to hit in the Yankees’ 8-0 rout on Saturday in The Bronx.
Judge walked twice, was hit by a pitch and struck out twice in his second game since tying Maris’ milestone of 61 home runs.
After Judge was walked on five pitches by Spenser Watkins in a four-run seventh inning, the crowd at Yankee Stadium chanted “a–hole” towards Watkins.
Judge got another chance in the eighth inning. After Watkins fell behind, 3-0, the right-hander struck out Judge, swinging, on a 3-2 fastball.
That leaves Judge with just one game left at the Stadium to hit home run No. 62 before the Yankees end the regular season with a four-game series at Texas.
While the Yankees have little to play for, having clinched the No. 2 seed in the American League, they got another encouraging start from Nestor Cortes, who has continued to pitch like an ace this season.
Cortes was terrific, holding Baltimore hitless until Jorge Mateo’s two-out single to left in the top of the fifth.
Up to that point, the left-hander had faced the minimum number of batters. He allowed a leadoff walk to Mateo in the third inning, before Mateo was erased when Robinson Chirinos hit into an inning-ending double play.
Cortes also struck out five of the first six batters he faced.
He left to a loud standing ovation after striking out Cedric Mullins for the first out in the eighth inning. Cortes matched his career-high with 12 strikeouts and gave up just the one hit to Mateo in a 93-pitch masterpiece.
The Yankees’ offense got off to a fast start against right-hander Austin Voth.
Judge was hit by a pitch to leadoff the bottom of the first and Anthony Rizzo grounded into a forceout. Gleyber Torres then doubled to the gap in left-center to drive in Rizzo from first.
Torres went to third on the play and scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Donaldson to make it 2-0 before the slumping Giancarlo Stanton hammered a 447-foot home run to left, his 29th of the season.
Kyle Higashioka homered with one out in the second to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
The Yankees scored four more runs in the seventh to seal the win, helped by some horrid Baltimore defense.