As the New York Yankees attempt to clinch top spot in the AL East, outfielder Aaron Judge still sits on 60 home runs for the season, with his hunt extending into the series against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Judge’s chase for 61 continued at the Rogers Centre on Monday night, however, he was held without a home run for a sixth-straight contest. That was made possible because of the fine performances from Toronto’s pitchers, beginning with right-hander Kevin Gausman.
Gausman faced Judge three separate times, allowing one walk and a 112.9 mph single against him. The Blue Jays starter also struck out the 6-foot-7 righty on an 85.2 mph slider in the sixth inning. Reliever Yimi Garcia also set him down on strikes in the eighth.
Despite striking out in two consecutive at-bats, the 30-year-old had an opportunity to break a 2-2 tie in the 10th inning with two runners on base. But with two outs, interim manager John Schneider opted to make a pitching change, bringing in left-hander Tim Mayza, before intentionally walking Judge.
The handful of Yankee fans in attendance didn’t hold back in voicing their displeasure with Schneider’s decision as boos rained down in what instantly became a very lively crowd at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays intentionally walk Aaron Judge pic.twitter.com/GLYxEFN7DE
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 27, 2022
Luckily for the Blue Jays, walking Judge to load the bases for Anthony Rizzo didn’t come back to haunt them, as the left-on-left matchup resulted in an inning-ending groundout. That, of course, helped set up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s eventual walk-off.
With Cavan Biggio on second base as the ghost runner, Guerrero came up with two outs and Clarke Schmidt on the mound looking to keep the score tied. Instead, the 23-year-old blasted a line drive into left field to score the winning run.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 27, 2022
The Blue Jays spoiled what almost everyone else was hoping to be a historic night for Judge. But as he was denied his 61st round-tripper of the season, so too were the Yankees in their attempt to clinch the AL East as their magic number remains stuck at one game.
No pitcher wants to surrender that record-tying home run, especially not Gausman, who wasn’t pleased with MLB swapping out regular baseballs for authenticated ones every time No. 99 came to the plate. They didn’t feel any different, but he didn’t appreciate having to halt his rhythm in those instances.
Gausman was critical of the baseball fanfare in Aaron Judge at-bats:
"Why does he need a different baseball? Like, if we're writing something on it beforehand, I think he's gonna get the baseball no matter what, right? I know why they're doing it. But, you know, kind of weird."
— Julia Kreuz (@juliackreuz) September 27, 2022
Judge will get another shot at history on Tuesday when Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios takes the mound. The Yankees slugger, who has gone 25 plate appearances without a home run, has one round-tripper in 18 career at-bats against the right-hander.
How much will Judge's 61st and 62nd home run balls be worth?
Whoever catches the home run ball that ties Roger Maris’ AL record could fetch a fortune. According to SCP Auctions President David Kohler, via Front Office Sports, No. 61 could fetch $250,000 at auction. The ball that breaks Maris’ record could command even more, with JP Cohen, the president of Memory Lane Auctions, already offering up $2 million to the lucky fan.
— Boardroom (@boardroom) September 23, 2022
That is life-changing money. It’d be similar to winning the lottery, at least to an extent. But the challenge remains for Judge to snap his current home run drought, although the Blue Jays hope it lasts until he leaves town.
For now, the current AL MVP favourite has nine games remaining to chase down Maris’ long-standing record while also attempting to capture the first Triple Crown since 2012.
Outfield ticket prices soar at Rogers Centre
Finding available tickets, particularly for outfield seating, isn’t easy at the moment. To sit above the Blue Jays bullpen for Tuesday’s game, it’ll cost you $485 CAD ($353 USD), according to Seat Geek. But if you end up catching Judge’s 61st or 62nd home run, it could be well worth paying the absurd ticket price.
On Monday, there was a large section of empty seats in left field — a prime position to catch potential home runs. Many fans speculated over the reasoning as to why so many seats were left unfilled, with some even suggesting they were bought out by legendary ball hawk Zack Hample.
ESPN’s Marly Rivera later revealed that those seats are usually filled by the players’ friends and family. This time, however, they were released for purchase to the general public at the last minute, providing fans with an opportunity to catch Judge’s next home run if it were to come.
Blue Jays spokesperson just explained to me that section has player-allotted seats (for friends and family) and were released for sale the general public at around 3pm. So they are available to buy right now! Prime seating for the #AaronJudge HR watch!😉 https://t.co/Ar76wLMCXY
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) September 27, 2022
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