Arraez keeps slight lead in AL batting race, but Twins still lose

CHICAGO — One, potentially two, acts of baseball history came into focus Tuesday night.

First, the undisputed: Aaron Judge smashed his 62nd home run of the season to set the new American League record in the second game of a doubleheader against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas. He went 1-for-2 for the Yankees and thus will have only Wednesday's regular-season finale to try to claim a Triple Crown.

That's where Luis Arraez comes in. He currently leads the AL batting title race at .315 with Judge at .311. Arraez went 1-for-4 in the Twins' 8-3 loss to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was his first game back after sitting out two because of left hamstring tightness.

Should Arraez maintain his lead through Wednesday, he'd break up the Triple Crown bid of Judge, who also leads the league with 131 RBI. But there are a lot of ifs still in play, which could make for an interesting Game 162.

MLB season statistics

"Anyone that wants to watch a baseball game and watch a guy competing for a batting title right now," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, "and also watch a guy grind through the types of injuries that Major League Baseball players do play through at times, and it's not easy to do, but if you want to watch all of that, you can tune in [Wednesday]."

Baldelli and Yankees manager Aaron Boone eluded to what their hot-hitting players might be doing come 3 p.m. Wednesday. Baldelli said he anticipates Arraez to be in the lineup again despite his injury. Boone hinted that Judge had earned a day off after rewriting Roger Maris' record of 61 homers in 1961, especially since the Yankees — unlike the Twins — are bound for the playoffs starting Oct. 11.

Should they both play, Judge would need to, for example, go 3-for-4 if Arraez went 0-for-4 to catch him. If Arraez didn't play, Judge would have to go 4-for-4 to nab the title. If Judge didn't play, then Arraez would win before the first pitch in either game was thrown.

"Quite close, yes. Quite close," Arraez said of the momentous season-ender. "We're just waiting for [Wednesday], and I'll go out there and enjoy it. I'll go out there and enjoy it and give it my 100 percent at the plate and try to do my best."

The Twins will gladly take some batting title intrigue instead of the drama that occurred in Tuesday's loss to the White Sox. The team had to check on injured players three times, first in the second inning, when the Twins took a 1-0 lead on Jake Cave's sacrifice fly. Rookie Jose Miranda had to leave the game after taking a pitch off his wrist that then ricocheted off his face. The Twins said Miranda had a lip/mouth contusion and his availability is day to day.

BOXSCORE: Chicago 8, Twins 3

Pitcher Aaron Sanchez also took a line drive off his arm, and catcher Ryan Jeffers had a foul ball sting his knee. And if that weren't painful enough, the White Sox put up four runs each in the third and fourth innings with starter Josh Winder and then Sanchez on the mound. The Twins scored some late consolation runs with a Nick Gordon RBI single in the sixth and a Jermaine Palacios home run in the ninth, the first of Palacios' career. But the Twins are still 77-84 and doomed to third in the AL Central behind the second-place White Sox at 81-80.

Even with his team's disappointments, Arraez took the time to celebrate what Judge accomplished for the game of baseball. He said he saw on TV during the White Sox game that Judge homered and was happy for him.

"Everybody can't do what he does," Arraez said, adding he met Judge at the All-Star Game this year. "… He's an amazing guy. He's a humble guy. He just works hard, and I want to say to him to keep continuing to play like that, and he'll be the best, like he's doing this year. For 62 homers, I want to say congratulations to him. He's amazing."