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Judge & Yankees Rise to the Occasion

Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Bronx, NY– October awaits, as #99 in pinstripes, Aaron Judge, is in the midst of one of the greatest individual statistical seasons in baseball history, the first player in MLB to total 60 home runs with 15+ stolen bases, and 90+ walks in a given season. 

But not to mention his route to becoming the all-time American League season leader in home runs, and if that’s not enough, we’re just getting started on the phenomenon of Aaron Judge rising to the occasion.

“We talk about the 60, the triple crown, and all that, but the other next level that makes him so special is how complete of a player he is,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone about the potential AL MVP. 

With the New York Yankees concluding their season series finale with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium this weekend, fans are anxious to witness history be made. Judge is one home run shy of tying Roger Maris for the American League HR season record, and two from being in his own stratosphere. Ticket prices to get in the stadium gates for Friday night are averaging $57 on secondary sites (Stubhub/Vivid Seats) with a $73 projected price for Saturday afternoon. 

📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

In like manner on Thursday evening, with 43,123 in attendance, you felt the anticipation and buzz across the stadium. From the ‘nosebleeds’ section 434 to the right field bleacher creatures located in 203 down to the luxury box suites, fans were on their feet for every Judge at-bat with cameras flashing. Additionally, for every pitch thrown to #99 resulting in a ball, flurries of boos reigned in harmony. 

“They boo every ball. They’re having fun with it,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora about the Bronx crowd. “Yankee Stadium, the way it should be. He’s been that way the whole season for them.”

And those boos continued with Red Sox pitching siding to walk Judge three out of his five plate appearances on the night. In his final at-bat in the bottom of the ninth, with history on the line, a deep flyball heading to Monument Park, fell just short at the centerfield warning track. Recorded off the bat at 112 MPH with the stadium roaring, Judge seemed to slightly get under a 2-2 four-seam fastball from Boston reliever Matt Barnes. 

“I just got underneath it a little bit,”  Judge explained. “A pretty windy night, so I was hoping maybe it was blowing out at the time I was hitting, but, just missed it.”

“112 to center there. I thought it would’ve been pretty showy to drop it off at Monument Park out there,” Boone said. “Just under it enough, 112 (MPH) though. Coat cool night, you know, felt like fall. That might’ve put a factor in there, but he put together a really good at-bat.”

📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

As much as the talk of the week is about Aaron Judge and his route to passing Roger Maris’s memorable 61, #99’s last month on offense has propelled him to a land only two other Yankees have marked in the franchise’s prestigious history, the rare and coveted triple crown (Lou Gehrig; 1934 & Mickey Mantle; 1956). 

In his last 22 games dating back to August 28th, Judge increased his season batting average from .293 to a whopping .317, hitting .447 with 11 HR, 19 RBI, and a .557 OBP in that span. 

His HR and RBI lead in the American League will remain unphased, however, the batting average may be the ‘odd man out’. Entering Thursday night, Judge led the AL in batting average by a slim margin with Red Sox Xander Bogaerts on his tail hitting .316, and Minnesota Twins Luis Arráez, of San Felipe, Venezuela batting .313. 

On a LatinoMVP note, the most recent triple crown occurred back in 2012 by none other than the five-time American League LatinoMVP recipient (2009, 2012-2015) and Venezuelan icon Miguel Cabrera. 

James Fiorentino, Julio Pabón awarding Miguel Cabrera his 2009 LatinoMVP award. (📸 Photo Credit: Latino Sports)

Throughout the rival-filled weekend, perhaps we are witnessing a constant back and forth between Bogaerts and Judge for the American League batting title. Bogaerts has finished among the AL’s top-10 in batting average four times in his 10-year career, while Judge is having a season in the record books. Take your pick and choose wisely.

To cap off the Thursday evening Bronx frenzy, Josh Donaldson punched the Yankees ticket to the postseason in the bottom of the tenth. Donaldson slashed a 0-1 four-seam fastball to left field, sending Marwin González across home plate for the 5-4 victory over Boston. 

📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

With their 16th walk-off win of the season, the second most in franchise single season history, the Yankees’ magic number to clinch the AL East has creeped down to six games. Regardless of individual statistics and franchise records, Judge and the Bronx Bombers are zoned in for the October postseason. 

“You never want to take it for granted. We’re in the dance and we’ve got a chance,” Boone said.

“I think you could ask anybody in this room: the job’s not finished,” Judge said. “We have an ultimate goal of going out there and winning our division, and setting ourselves up for the postseason. And this is step No. 1, step No. 1 of many steps to come.”

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Robert Rizzo is the assistant editor for Latino Sports

Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994


Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo.

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