In 1961, Roger Maris reached 33 homers before the All-Star break on his way to hitting 61 homers and breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record.
Sixty-one years later, Aaron Judge has matched the mark set by Maris and gets one more day to see if he can surpass him when the New York Yankees conclude the first half of the season by hosting the struggling Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.
Judge leads the major league home run race by five over Philadelphia slugger Kyle Schwarber after getting his seventh multi-homer game this season with a solo shot and matched Maris with a two-run drive in Saturday’s 14-1 win.
“It’s incredible,” Judge said. “We still got one more day. Don’t cut me short now.”
Since the All-Star game began in 1933, Judge is the sixth player in major league history with 30 homers in multiple seasons before the break. Judge also hit 30 of his 52 homers before the break in 2017 on his way to winning AL Rookie of the Year honors.
Judge will play in his 89th game, six more than Maris before the break in 1961.
Judge will make his first attempts at breaking the team record against Chris Sale (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Judge is 5-for-25 against Sale with one homer and 15 strikeouts.
New York is coming off one of its most lopsided wins of the season after dropping five of its previous six games for its first slump this season. The Yankees also cruised to the win by getting a pair of three-run homers and seven RBIs from Matt Carpenter after playing three straight extra-inning games and losing four times in the final at-bat.
The Red Sox head into the finale of an inconsistent first half with five losses in their last six games and still seek their first series win against an AL East opponent, whom they are 12-25 against.
“We’ve got a chance to win the series. It really doesn’t matter. They kicked our butt tonight,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “Just got to be ready. We’ve got Chris on the mound and it’s the last game of the first part of the season.”
Rafael Devers has homered in three straight games and hit two off Gerrit Cole July 7 in Boston when the Red Sox dropped a 6-5 decision.
The Red Sox are facing Cole (8-2, 3.05) for the third time this season after tagging him for eight runs and nine hits in their first 10 innings against the right-hander.
Cole is coming off one of his best outings of the season when he struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings Tuesday before Clay Holmes allowed four runs in the ninth of a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati.
Cole is 6-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 12 career starts against Boston and has allowed six homers in 23 at-bats to Devers.
Sale is making his second start since returning from a broken rib. In his season debut, Sale pitched five scoreless innings and threw 78 pitches Tuesday at Tampa Bay when his fastball averaged 95.1 mph and topped out at 96.9.
“I’m not broken anymore,” Sale said. “It’s different this year. It’s definitely different this year. That’s all I’ve really got to say.”
Sale is 6-8 with a 2.98 ERA in 21 career appearances (18 starts) against the Yankees. He last faced the Yankees Aug. 3, 2019, in New York, where he was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.
–Field Level Media