MILWAUKEE – Aaron Judge hit his 58th and 59th home runs of the season to match Roger Maris’ American League record with 16 games remaining and lead the New York Yankees over the Milwaukee Brewers with 12- 8 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 runs and avoided a three-game sweep. The Yankees opened a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Toronto in the AL East and head to the Bronx for a homestand against Pittsburgh and Boston that begins Tuesday.
“It’s going to be like over the edge, they’re going to slap things and beer is going to fly everywhere,” predicted pitcher Gerrit Cole. “It’s probably not going to be a kid-friendly environment in the stands. He’s going to be crazy.”
Judge’s 11th multihomer game tied the season record set by Detroit’s Hank Greenberg in 1938 and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa in 1998.
In pursuit of a Triple Crown, Judge leads the major leagues in homers and 127 RBI. His .3162 average is just behind AL leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota at .317 and Xander Bogaerts of Boston at .3164.
“We’ve got some big games ahead of us,” Judge said. “That’s really the only thing on my mind right now. My focus is to go out there and win a game.”
Milwaukee (78-68) fell two games back of San Diego, which plays later Sunday, for the third and final NL wild card.
The judge’s hostages totaled 857 feet. His first came on a 2-0 count by Jason Alexander in the third inning, 414 feet, opposite field into the second deck of right field.
Judge became the first player with five batted balls of 110 mph or more in a game since Statcast began tracking in 2015, the hardest at 115.4 mph.
“You must come up with the best things against him,” said Alexander. “I felt like I made some good pitches and it’s tough when you can draw one in the outfield and he still puts it 110 (mph) into the stands. It’s a very small margin of error.”
Then, in the seventh against Luis Perdomo, Judge pulled a slider with a 1-2 count for a 443-foot shot to left.
“This is his moment right now. When you make a mistake against him, he’s going to take advantage of it,” Perdomo said.
Judge also walked Hobey Milner (3-3) to lead off a four-run fifth as the Yankees pulled ahead to make it 7-4.
Judge had not pitched in his previous three games since going deep twice at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber is a distant second in the major leagues with 39 homers. Judge became the first player since Mookie Betts in 2018 to reach FanGraphs’ top 10 WAR. Since 2012, only Betts, Mike Trout (twice) and Buster Posey have reached that mark
Maris hit 61 homers for the Yankees in 1961, one more than Babe Ruth hit in 1927.
Anthony Rizzo made 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 deficits of 3-0 and 4-1.
New York had 16 hits and twice hit back-to-home homers: Judge and Rizzo in the third, then Hicks and Judge in the seventh.
Cole (12-7) gave up Kolten Wong’s three-run homer in the first and Tyrone Taylor’s solo shot in the second, Cole giving up the second most in the majors and trailing only Washington’s Josiah Gray with 37.
“I don’t really have a good answer,” Cole said. “In some cases, it’s remarkable. But I have to get better.”
Rowdy Tellez hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Clarke Schmidt. Milwaukee scored twice in the ninth and put up a potential tying run with one out before Clay Holmes struck out Luis Uriah and retired Keston Juura on a pitch.
Yankees: Boone said the team was waiting for doctors to review an MRI taken on RHP Frankie Montas’ throwing shoulder. . RHP Scott Effross (strained right shoulder) gave up a leadoff hit to Bobby Dalbec and a pair of doubles as 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, striking out two and allowing one hit. … Boone said INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez was feeling better after being removed from Saturday’s game when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Brewers catcher Victor Caratini while standing in the batter’s box. .C Jose Trevino was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day after leaving Friday’s game with a bruised right knee.
Yankees: LHP Nestor Cortes (10-4, 2.70 ERA) will make his 26th start of the season.
Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes (10-7, 2.97) starts as Milwaukee opens a three-game home series against the New York Mets. Burns is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA against the Mets.
Judge hits 58th, 59th homers, Yanks beat Brewers 12-8 originally appeared on NBCSports.com