There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of baseball during a home run chase, and Thursday’s adventures of Aaron Judge showcased that and more.
Judge went into the game with 60 homers against the Boston Red Sox and needed another to catch Roger Maris for the longtime American League record. Judge didn’t have many opportunities to make history. Although Red Sox manager Alex Cora said his pitchers would “attack” Judge as usual, the MVP nominee was guided in three of his first four plate appearances.
Judge’s best chance came in the ninth inning against Red Sox successor Matt Barnes in a 4-4 tie. The stage was perfectly set not only for a record-breaking homer, but also for a walkoff winner.
After five pitches, the score being 2-2, Judge crushed an elevated fastball and immediately set off a roar at Yankee Stadium. The Fox show certainly thought he’d hit the home run when play-by-play man Kenny Albert exclaimed, “Aaron Judge! center field! Way back!” while the camera caught an angle clearly destined for a home run.
Unfortunately for everyone who was on their feet, Albert ended his call with “Buuut Hernandez is there.” The ball fell into Kiké Hernández’s glove just yards from the midfield wall.
The MLB Statcast numbers show fans had reason to be happy. Judge hit the ball with an exit speed of 113.0 mph and watched it travel 404 feet. It was the hardest-hit and longest-hit ball of the night in a game that featured two true home runs.
Unfortunately, Judge accidentally hit the ball in the deepest part of the stadium, so the story will have to wait at least another day, with Friday being spent entirely within the confines of Apple TV+.
The good news for the Yankees is that they still emerged from the game with a win over their rivals as they kept the Red Sox scoreless in the top of the 10th inning and then won with a walkoff single from Josh Donaldson.
The story goes on
The judge’s next chance to tie Maris comes Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET. He will have a draw advantage over Red Sox starter southpaw Rich Hill.
A lot of people thought Aaron Judge had. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)