New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has been stoic and poised during his historic chase to break the American League single-season home run record.
He needs just one more home run to to break the record, but he only has two games remaining to do it.
Judge went 1-for-5 in the Yankees’ win over the Texas Rangers in the first game of their Tuesday doubleheader, and he had a golden opportunity to park one in that game. Instead, he showed some frustration in the dugout.
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Rangers starter Jon Gray served a hanging breaking ball right over the heart of the plate, a pitch Judge normally crushes. But, after he took a healthy hack, the ball went sky-high at Globe Life Park in Arlington and was caught by the first baseman.
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Walking back into the Yankees’ dugout, Judge tossed his helmet against a rack in disappointment, a rare sign of frustration from one of the most well-mannered players in the game.
Chasing history puts tremendous pressure on a player, especially one of the doorstep of rewriting the record books. It also doesn’t help that the entire ballpark was booing Judge throughout the game when he didn't break the record, even when he laced a single up the middle to get on base.
Judge also plays in the largest media market in the country with a rabid fan base that is demanding no matter the circumstances.
Perhaps the AL MVP candidate just wasn’t happy that he didn’t get any kind of hit in that at-bat. The pitch was certainly one that could have been taken to the seats, but Judge has been mentioning this entire second half what he aims to do is help his team win games. It was a golden opportunity to put a run on the board, but he missed out.
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Judge is now three for his last 16 at-bats since he knocked his 61st home run over the Rogers Centre wall in Toronto against the Blue Jays last week. Roger Maris Jr., who congratulated Judge in Toronto after Judge tied his father’s record, believed he would break it in the Bronx against the Baltimore Orioles, but Judge couldn’t do it.
Instead, Judge collected one hit in seven at-bats in three games, while taking a free pass to first base with five walks as Orioles pitchers danced around the strike zone.
Rangers pitchers have said they will be going right at Judge in these final games, and they’ve done just that.
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In the second game, Judge will see 27-year-old right-hander Jesus Tinoco on the bump. Tinoco has a 1.83 ERA in his last 19.2 innings. He’s given up just one homer in 16 games with Texas this year.