Phenom sets single-season mark with 27 at new Yankee Stadium
By Danny Knobler
Special to MLB.com |
NEW YORK -- The numbers for the full year are stunning. The numbers in 16 games against the Orioles are ridiculous.
But the biggest takeaway from Aaron Judge's two-homer night in the Yankees' 13-5 win Thursday was that Judge may return to being the force he was in the first half of the season. Imagine how that could affect the rest of the American League East race, and maybe October, too.
"I felt like he's been getting closer and closer to where he was in the first half," manager Joe Girardi said. "And maybe he's there."
It sure looked like it on this night, with three hits that included a pair of laser shots that wouldn't have been out of place in April, May or June. Judge's second homer of the night was clocked off the bat at 117.2 mph, his fifth-hardest home run of the season. It landed in the second deck in left field, an estimated 448 feet from home plate.
It was also his American League-leading 43rd home run of the season … and the 27th he has hit at Yankee Stadium … and the 11th he has hit in 16 games against the Orioles this year.
"He owns that team," teammate Didi Gregorius said. "He's had good numbers against other teams, but 11 home runs is a lot."
Eleven home runs are the most any Yankee has had against any one team since 1961, when Roger Maris hit 13 against the White Sox and Mickey Mantle hit 11 against the Senators. Judge joins Yankees icons Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio with double-digit homers in one season against the Browns/Orioles franchise.
As for the 27 home runs at home, they're the most at new Yankee Stadium since it opened in 2009. The only Yankees with 27 or more at home in any season are Judge, Ruth, Maris, Mantle and Gehrig.
Judge now has 112 runs and 110 walks, the most in the AL in each category. The only Yankees with that many runs and that many walks in the same season: Judge, Mantle, Gehrig and Ruth.
Oh, and both of Judge's home runs Thursday were three-run shots, giving him the first six-RBI game of his career and leaving him with 96 RBIs for the season.
But, hasn't he struggled in the second half? He has.
Judge's second-half batting average was just .185 before his 3-for-4 night. His strikeout rate has been higher (84 in 193 plate appearances), and before a two-homer game Sunday in Texas, he had just five home runs in 35 games since Aug. 1.
Maybe that's all changing, with a pair of two-homer games in a five-day span. Judge insists he hasn't changed anything in his approach at the plate, but he did talk Thursday about how when he's not feeling good at the plate he just tries to "squeeze out a hit or a walk."
The home runs this week suggest he's feeling better.
"I'm feeling all right," he said with a wide grin.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.