There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of baseball on a home run chase, and Aaron Judge’s adventures on Thursday showed that and more.
When he started the game against the Boston Red Sox with 60 home runs a year and needed one more to match Roger Maris for the American League longstanding record, Judge didn’t get many chances to make history. Despite Red Sox manager Alex Cora saying his pitchers would “attack” Judge as usual, the MVP-candidate walked in three of his first four at bats.
Judge’s best chance came in the ninth inning against Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, who tied the score at 4-4. The podium was perfectly set for not only a record-breaking homer, but also a walkoff winner.
Five pitches in, on a 2-2 count, Judge crushed an elevated fastball and immediately caused a roar through Yankee Stadium. The Fox broadcast definitely thought he hit the home run, with play-by-play man Kenny Albert exclaiming, “Aaron Judge! Center field! Way back!” as the camera showed an angle clearly intended for a home run.
Unfortunately for everyone on their feet, Albert ended his phone call with “Buuut Hernandez is here.” The ball fell just a few meters from the midfield wall, into the glove of Kiké Hernández.
The MLB Statcast numbers show the fans had reason to be excited. Judge hit the ball with an exit speed of 113.0 mph and watched it travel 404 feet. It was the hardest hit and longest hit ball of the evening, in a game with two real homeruns.
Unfortunately, Judge just happened to hit the ball to the deepest part of the ballpark, and so history will have to wait at least another day, with Friday being exclusively within the limits of Apple TV+.
The good news for the Yankees is that they still came out of the game with a win over their rivals, as they held the Red Sox scoreless in the top of the 10th inning, then won on a walkoff single to Josh Donaldson.
The judge’s next chance to tie Maris comes at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. He will have a pack advantage against Red Sox starter, left-handed Rich Hill.