Wed, 28 Sep 2022

Aaron Judge could enter home run lore vs. Pirates

Field Level Media
21 Sep 2022, 17:19 GMT+10

After reaching 60 homers in a potential loss, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge admitted a curtain call seemed bizarre.

"I really didn't want to do it, especially, we're losing, it's a solo shot," Judge said.

About 10 minutes later, those concerns were erased when New York's Giancarlo Stanton hit a game-winning grand slam.

Coming off one of their most dramatic victories of the season, the Yankees hope to see Judge match Roger Maris with his 61st homer and move closer to securing a playoff spot Wednesday night when they again host the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Yankees (89-58) are 10-4 in their past 14 games. Judge is batting .471 (32-for-68) with 11 homers and 19 RBIs during a 19-game on-base streak, raising his average from .293 to .316, one point ahead of Boston's Xander Bogaerts for the AL lead.

"I think we as teammates are enjoying the season that Aaron's having and where it ends up," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "But first and foremost, we're trying to win a division championship right now and have that kind of ending ignited by number 60, yeah it makes it way more meaningful, I think."

Judge matched Babe Ruth's 1927 mark to help spark a five-run rally in a 9-8 win. Stanton, who has struggled immensely since returning from the injured list, hit New York's second game-ending grand slam.

"I'm trying to enjoy it all and soak it all in," Judge said. "But I know I've still got a job to do out on the field every single day. I've just got to keep my head down and keep preparing and stay mentally focused."

Pittsburgh (55-93) is now riding a five-game losing streak despite getting 10 hits on Tuesday in the series opener. Bryan Reynolds hit a tying homer and a go-ahead single as part of a four-hit night and is batting .340 (18-for-53) over his past 13 games.

Before Judge connected off Wil Crowe, the Pirates got him to ground out twice, strike out and draw a walk.

"This is one of the best lineups in baseball," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "We left the ball in the middle of the plate, and because of it, we ended up paying for it."

New York's Luis Severino (5-3, 3.45 ERA) will return on Wednesday from a two-month stint on the injured list caused by a right lat strain.

The right-hander is set for his first start since July 13, when he allowed three homers in two innings against the Cincinnati Reds. The Yankees moved Severino to the 60-day injured list last month in a move that frustrated him, and he pitched 10 1/3 innings in three rehab appearances.

Severino will be facing the Pirates for the second time in three starts. In New York's 16-0 victory in Pittsburgh on July 6, he allowed four hits in six innings while throwing 88 pitches.

Roansy Contreras (5-4, 3.24 ERA), who was among the Yankees minor-leaguers acquired for Jameson Taillon in January 2021, is set to make his 16th start for Pittsburgh.

The 22-year-old right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA in his six starts since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Aug. 17. Contreras took a no-decision on Sept. 14 when he allowed one run and three hits in four innings of Pittsburgh's 10-4 win at Cincinnati.

Contreras will be facing the Yankees -- and Judge -- for the first time in his two-year major-league career.

--Field Level Media

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