Judge homers, Yankees edge Blue Jays
NEW YORK — Aaron Judge hit a fastball into the wind and sent it soaring over the left field bleachers, and when it landed he had surpassed a Hall of Famer’s record.
When Judge hit his latest home run, the New York Yankees owned a lead and a chance in the AL East race. A few minutes later, the Boston Red Sox took a lead they would not relinquish and the Yankees were on their way to knowing their exact playoff scenario.
Judge broke Babe Ruth’s team record for home runs at home, and CC Sabathia pitched effectively into the sixth, but the Yankees were eliminated from the AL East race shortly after getting a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
“We took care of our business, that’s all we can do,” Sabathia said.
The Yankees (91-70), who last held sole possession of first place July 31, needed to win out and for the Boston Red Sox to lose their remaining two games to have a shot at the division title. That scenario would have left both teams at 92-70, forcing a tiebreaker game Monday in New York.
The Red Sox secured a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros 21 minutes after the Yankees closed out their 21st win in 29 games. It officially confirmed that New York will host the wild-card game Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins.
“It’s frustrating knowing how well we’ve played in the last five or six weeks, but again I really like the way our club is playing,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “If we have to play Tuesday, we play Tuesday and let’s give it everything we’ve got.”
Judge extended his rookie record by opening the fourth with his league-leading 52nd homer. When he connected on Marcus Stroman’s 2-0 fastball, the Red Sox were in a scoreless game with the Houston Astros at Fenway.
Shortly after Judge’s 484-foot blast landed on the walkway in front of the row of retired numbers, the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead.
Judge broke Ruth’s record with his 33rd home run at Yankee Stadium. Ruth set the home record in 1921 when the Yankees played across the Harlem River at Manhattan’s Polo Grounds in the team’s first pennant-winning season.
“Pretty incredible accomplishment but I don’t got much to say about it,” Judge said. “I’m just focused on trying to win and help the team out right now.”
The 25-year-old also equaled the number of homers hit by Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle when he won the Triple Crown in 1956, and it was the fourth-longest homer of the season. It also was his 15th homer this month, the most by any Yankee since Roger Maris hit 15 of his 61 in June 1961.
Sabathia (14-5) was tabbed to make the start Saturday morning instead of Jaime Garcia after the Red Sox dropped a 3-2 decision Friday. He allowed four hits in 5 2/3 innings, exiting shortly after Boston’s lead reached 5-0 and following an amusing conversation with Girardi.
“Just an outstanding performance,” Girardi said.
Sabathia exited to a standing ovation and won his fifth straight decision since returning from a brief disabled-list stint last month. He struck out six, extending his AL-record for strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher to 2,718.
Sabathia threw 75 pitches, including one to Ryan Goins that resulted in a fan being ejected for reaching over the right field seats. Goins was awarded a double on fan interference and Sabathia exited after striking out Teoscar Hernandez.
David Robertson gave up Josh Donaldson’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the eighth before striking out Justin Smoak with two on. Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.
Starlin Castro’s RBI single in the fourth accounted for New York’s other run.
Stroman (13-9) allowed two runs on six hits in four innings as the Blue Jays were shut out for the second straight game.
After allowing Judge’s latest homer Toronto lost its third in a row.
“Oh gosh, the ones he hits too,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “I mean you sit there and admire some of the distance on some of those things.”
NOTES: New York RF Aaron Judge made his 10th start as the designated hitter. Manager Joe Girardi wanted to give him a full day off but with the AL East still undecided before the game, Girardi settled for a half-day off: “That hasn’t happened because of the situation that we’re in so it kind of gives him a half day,” Girardi said. ... Toronto RF Jose Bautista recorded his 10th outfield assist in the first inning. ... Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman finished at 201 innings, three shy of last year’s total.