MILWAUKEE (Neth.) – Aaron Judge hit his 58th and 59th home runs of the season to come within two of Roger Maris’ American League record with 16 games left and led the New York Yankees 12-8 over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Judge added a two-run double in the ninth as part of a four-hit day for New York (88-58), which hit five homeruns and avoided a three-game sweep. The Yankees opened a 5 1/2 game lead over Toronto in second place in the AL East and headed to the Bronx for a homestand against Pittsburgh and Boston starting Tuesday.
“They will go over the edge, bang on things and the beer will fly everywhere,” predicted pitcher Gerrit Cole. “It will probably not be a child-friendly environment in the stands. It’s gonna suck.”
Judge’s 11th multihomer game tied the 1938 season record of Detroit’s Hank Greenberg and matched by Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs in 1998.
Seeking a Triple Crown, Judge leads the major leagues in home runs and with 127 RBI’s. His batting average of .3162 is just behind AL leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota at .317 and Xander Bogaerts of Boston at .3164.
“There are some big games coming up,” Judge said. “That’s really all I’m thinking about right now. My focus is to go there and win a game.”
Milwaukee (78-68) left two games behind San Diego, which played later Sunday, for the third and final NL wild card.
Judge’s home runs totaled 857 feet. His first came on a sinker by Jason Alexander with a 2-0 count in the third inning, a 414-foot, opposite field drive into right field second deck.
Judge became the first player to hit five balls of 110 mph or more in a game since Statcast began tracking in 2015, the hardest at 115.4 mph.
“You have to come against him with your best gear,” said Alexander. “I felt like I made some good pitches, and it’s hard when you can paint one on the outside and it still puts it at 110 (mph) in the stands. It’s a very thin margin of error.”
Then in the seventh against Luis Perdomo, Judge pulled a slider with a 1-2 count for a shot from 443 feet to the left.
“Now is his moment. If you make a mistake against him, he will take advantage of it,” said Perdomo.
Judge also walked Hoby Milner (3-3) that led to a fifth of four runs, while the Yankees continued to hold out at 7-4.
Judge hadn’t homed in his previous three games since going deep twice at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Kyle Schwarber of Philadelphia is a distant second in the major leagues with 39 home runs. Judge became the first player since Mookie Betts to be ranked in the top 10 WAR by FanGraphs in 2018. Since 2012, only Betts, Mike Trout (twice) and Buster Posey had reached that point
Maris hit 61 home runs for the Yankees in 1961, one more than Babe Ruth in 1927.
Anthony Rizzo homered on his return from the injured list, his 31st of the season, and had three hits. Aaron Hicks and rookie Oswaldo Cabrera also went deep as the Yankees overcame 3-0 and 4-1 deficits.
New York had 16 hits and hit back-to-home home runs twice: Judge and Rizzo in the third, then Hicks and Judge in the seventh.
Cole (12-7) gave up the three-run homerun to Kolten Wong in the first and Tyrone Taylor’s solo shot in the second.
“I don’t really have a good answer,” Cole said. “In some cases it is remarkable. But I have to get better.”
Rowdy Tellez hit a two-run homerun in the eighth off Clarke Schmidt. Milwaukee scored twice in the ninth and secured the potential tying run with one out before Clay Holmes struckout Luis Urias and eliminated Keston Hiura on a groundout.
Yankees: Boone said the team was waiting for doctors to review an MRI taken on RHP Frankie Montas’ throwing shoulder. . RHP Scott Effross (overloaded right shoulder) gave up a leadoff homer to Bobby Dalbec and a pair of doubles when he pitched the fifth inning for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Worcester. … RHP Albert Abreu (elbow inflammation) pitched a scoreless inning for Double-A Somerset, struckout two and gave up one basehit. … Boone said INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez felt better after being kicked out of Saturday’s game when he was hit on the helmet by a throw from Brewers catcher Victor Caratini while in the batter’s box. .C Jose Trevino was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive day after leaving Friday’s game with a bruised right knee.
Yankees: LHP Nestor Cortes (10-4, 2.70 ERA) makes his 26th start of the season.
Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes (10-7, 2.97) opens as Milwaukee opens a three-game home run with the New York Mets. Burnes is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA against the Mets.
Judge hits 58th and 59th home run, Yanks beat Brewers 12-8 originally appeared on NBCSports.com