Aaron Judge remains stuck on 60 homers as Yankees clinch AL East title, Wild Card Series bye

New York Yankees v. Toronto Blue Jays
Thomas Skrlj

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge remains stuck on 60 home runs. Judge went 0 for 1 with four walks in Tuesday night's win over the AL East rival Toronto Blue Jays (NYY 5, TOR 2). It is the second four-walk game of Judge's career. Judge is of course chasing Roger Maris' American League single-season record of 61 home runs set in 1961.

More importantly, the Yankees clinched the AL East title and a Wild Card Series bye with Tuesday's win. The Astros and Yankees will be the top two AL seeds and thus go directly to the ALDS. The AL Central champion Guardians will play in the best-of-three Wild Card Series, though they will host all three games. The three wild-card spots are still undecided.

As for Judge, he is 5 for 19 (.263) with 12 walks and eight strikeouts in seven games since hitting his 60th home run last Tuesday. That works out to a .548 on-base percentage. Here is the AL's single-season home run leaderboard: 

  1. Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  2. Aaron Judge, 2022 Yankees: 60 and counting
  3. Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60
  4. Hank Greenberg, 1938 Tigers: 58
  5. Jimmie Foxx, 1932 Athletics: 58 

The seven-game home run drought ties the second longest of the season for Judge. He had a seven-game drought from April 14-21 and a season-high nine-game drought from Aug. 13-21. Judge hit eight homers in his next 10 games after that April drought, and nine homers in his next 14 games after that August drought.

In addition to Maris' record, Judge is also chasing the Triple Crown. Tuesday's game leaves him with a .314 batting average, narrowly ahead of Luis Arraez (.313) and Xander Bogaerts (.311). Judge leads the league by good margins with 60 home runs and 128 RBI. Miguel Cabrera had baseball's last Triple Crown in 2012.

Judge will look to hit his 61st homer in Wednesday's series finale in Toronto. The Blue Jays will start righty Mitch White, who has allowed two hits in two career at-bats against Judge. After Wednesday's game, the Yankees will return home for a thee-game weekend series with the Orioles, giving Judge a chance to catch Maris at Yankee Stadium.

The AL East title is New York's first since 2019 and only their second since 2012. They've had a very up and down season. The Yankees peaked at 61-23 on July 8, the best record in baseball by 6 1/2 games, but they are only 34-36 since, including an ugly 3-14 stretch in August. They have since righted the ship with a 16-7 record in September.

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