NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge sent a sinker into the left-field stands, another of his undoubted hits, and circled the bases for the 60th time.
Unassuming throughout a march into history that now has him level with Babe Ruth, Judge then took a moment far rarer than one of his long shots: a curtain call.
“I really didn’t want to do it, especially, we’re losing. He’s a solo homer,” he said, recalling how his leadoff homer in the ninth only cut the Yankees’ deficit to three runs.
Eleven minutes later, Judge and the Yankees felt free to cut loose.
Giancarlo Stanton followed Judge’s drive with a game-ending grand slam, capping off New York’s impressive five-run ninth-inning rally to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8 Tuesday night.
“I went a little crazy,” said Judge, who is one home run short of tying Roger Maris’ American League record for the season. “That’s a Giancarlo Stanton signature 10-foot laser into the outfield. He had a good front row seat to that. I think the whole team lost their minds and the stadium blew up.”
Judge homered on a 3-1 pitch by Wil Crowe (5-10) to match Ruth’s 1927 total, which stood as the major league record until broken by Maris 34 years later.
Judge is on his way to the first AL Triple Crown in a decade, leading in home runs, RBI (128) and batting average (.316).
He dropped his bat near home plate — he never turns — and when he finished his jog, he high-fived Anthony Rizzo, hugged Gleyber Torres and slapped Josh Donaldson. Judge walked up and down the dugout to receive congratulations and then came off the dugout steps and very briefly tipped his helmet to the fans.
“I joked with Matt Carpenter a little bit earlier in the year, I think he had two home runs in a game or something and he got a curtain call,” Judge said. “Man, I’ve been here six years and I only have a curtain call. So I guess you need to get to 60 to get another one.”
Rizzo doubled, Torres walked and Donaldson singled to load the bases. Stanton, mired in a 9-for-72 slump, sent a half-dozen row shift to the left-field seats, capping a long-repeating 19-pitch sequence and prompting a raucous celebration among what remained of the field. crowd of 40,157.
Roger Maris Jr. and Kevin Maris, sons of the former player, were present.
“He hit 60 tonight, and it’s like nothing happened. She has more work to do,” said Stanton, who hit 59 for Miami five years ago.
Crowe’s great-uncle, Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, was Ruth’s teammate on the Yankees in the 1930s. Crowe visited Ruffing’s plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park before the game.
“He did what he was supposed to do with it,” Crowe said, “3-1 count, I’m not putting it down. I felt like I wanted to go after him. He started away, came back. He put a good swing on a bad pitch.”
Aroldis Chapman (3-3) pitched the ninth on a 1-2-3 count.
Bryan Reynolds tied the score 4-4 with a home run in the seventh off Lou Trivino and hit a go-ahead single off Jonathan Loáisiga in the eighth for his fourth hit.
Rodolfo Castro, the player suspended for a Major League Baseball game last month after a cell phone flew out of his pocket during a headslide, followed up with a three-run homer off Clay Holmes.
Holmes, an All-Star who slumped in the second half, was pitching against his former team for the first time.
Harrison Bader had a pair of go-ahead singles and drove in three runs in his Yankees debut. First baseman Anthony Rizzo made a key error that led to a four-run eighth inning for the already eliminated Pirates.
Reynolds also made a three-base error on a fly ball to center, one of two errors by a team that leads the majors with 108.
Néstor Cortés stopped his leg twice on Reynolds’ fumble double in the third, but allowed a single to center field.
Former Yankees 3B Charlie Hayes, who caught the last out of the 1996 World Series, threw a ceremonial first pitch to his son, Pirates 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Pittsburgh promoted six players to Triple-A Indianapolis following the season finale in Double-A Altoona: RHP Quinn Priester and Colin Selby, 2B-C-OF Endy Rodriguez, INF Aaron Shackelford, 3B Malcom Nunez, OF Matt Gorski. “Now we have another 10 days of at-bats that we can get,” manager Derek Shelton said. “Missing 2020 was so vital for organizations like ours. The more reps we can get, the better it is.”
Yankees: RHP Frankie Montas received a second cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder and went on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday. … LHP Zack Britton (Tommy John surgery) pitched a one-hit inning for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in his eighth outing from rehab. RHP Miguel Castro (sprained shoulder) pitched a no-hitter for the RailRiders.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
New York RHP Luis Severino (5-3, 3.45) starts Wednesday after recovering from a wing strain that has sidelined him since July 13. RHP Roansy Contreras (5-4, 3.24) pitches for the Pirates.