In miraculous fashion, the New York Yankees came back from a four-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-8, on Tuesday night.
It was none other than Aaron Judge, the MVP frontrunner, who gave the Yankees the spark they needed. He bashed his 60th home run of the season to tie Babe Ruth’s single season record and become one homer shy of the single-season American League record with Roger Maris, who hit 61 homers in 1961.
It was a soaring shot that hit the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium off Pirates pitcher Wil Crowe, and though Judge wasn’t too happy about it because his team was still down three runs, his teammates picked up the slack in the end.
With bases loaded and no outs, Giancarlo Stanton, who has been struggling recently and didn’t have a hit on the night, hit a laser to left field that carried over the wall for a grand slam and sent everyone home happy with the win.
“It’s gotta get me rolling. Anything I can do to help the team win,” Stanton told YES Network after the game.
Stanton added that Judge’s home run “sparked all of us. Helped us get this win, and he’s been doing this all year.”
To load the bases, it took Anthony Rizzo lacing a double to left center field followed by Gleyber Torres walking. Then, Josh Donaldson hit a blooper to center field that fell despite Pirates defenders being close to it. Stanton cashed in on the opportunity.
Back to Judge, he’s also the first person to hit 60 homers in a season since 2001, when Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa (64) and San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds, who set MLB’s single-season record with 73 homers, did it. Judge is the sixth person in MLB history to reach this feat.
Judge has been adamant in saying he’s really not paying attention to the history he’s making because he just wants his team to win.
“I don’t think about the numbers,” he said after the game.
But Judge had to admit “it makes it that much sweeter” that No. 60 came in a victory unlike No. 50 in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels that resulted in a loss.
Judge and Stanton had the heroics in this one, but an overlooked storyline was Harrison Bader, returning from the IL and playing his first game as a Yankee since being traded by the St. Louis Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery, collected three RBI on the night.
Bader made the best of opportunities with runners on base, tying the game at one apiece in the bottom of the fifth inning with a single and then giving the Yankees the lead an inning later with a two-run single to right field.
Nestor Cortes, the Yankees’ ace this season, went five innings and gave up one run on five hits and two walks while striking out four.
Luis Ortiz, the 23-year-old rookie for the Pirates, did well to keep the Yankees at bay to start the game. He went five innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on three hits and two walks while striking out five.
The Pirates’ offense was led by All-Star Bryan Reynolds, who went 4-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
This win was a crucial one for the Yankees, too, as the Toronto Blue Jays, chasing them in the AL East, beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 18-11. The comeback win keeps the AL East lead for New York at 5.5 games.