Aaron Judge, who hit his 60th home run of the season in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s monster comeback against the Pittsburgh Pirates, is one home run away from tying Roger Maris’s American League single-season record of 61, which was set in 1961.
On Wednesday night, in the second game of a six-game homestand at Yankee Stadium, Judge will get his first chance to match Maris.
Adding some intrigue to Judge’s pursuit is the fact that the three players to have hit more home runs in a season than Maris — the National Leaguers Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — have been connected to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Judge, one of the largest players in baseball history at 6 feet 7 inches and 282 pounds, has played his entire career in the era in which Major League Baseball has been testing players for a variety of banned substances.
When is the game and how can I watch?
Wednesday’s game between the Yankees and the Pirates is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Eastern time. It will be televised on the YES Network in the New York area and on AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh. It will be streamed via the MLB At-Bat app everywhere else.
How long will I have to wait to see Judge?
Not too long! The Yankees have been having Judge bat leadoff, so he will almost assuredly be the first person up in the bottom of the first inning. After that … it depends on how the rest of his Yankees teammates hit.
So is he going for a record or not?
Yes and no. The M.L.B. single-season record, which is 73, is probably out of his reach — Bonds had 64 through 147 team games in 2001 to Judge’s 60 this year — but getting to 62 would give Judge sole possession of the A.L. record. He has already joined his fellow Yankees Babe Ruth (1927) and Maris (1961) as the only A.L. batters to hit 60.
It is possible for Judge to challenge Bonds’s single-season record, but it will require him to find an even higher gear than the one he has shown so far.
What is this I’ve been hearing about a triple crown?
Oh yeah, Judge is also currently in line to win the first triple crown since 2012, and it would be only the 13th time a player has led the A.L. or N.L. in batting average, home runs and runs batted in since R.B.I. became an official statistic in 1920. While he had never hit higher than .287 for a season entering this one, Judge talked openly about his desire to hit .300 this year. He went from batting .299 after the game of Sept. 4 to .316 after Tuesday night’s win. That has been enough for him to pass Luis Arraez of the Minnesota Twins and Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox for the lead in the batting race. Because Judge has huge leads in home runs (60 to Yordan Alvarez’s 37) and R.B.I. (128 to José Ramírez’s 115), the batting title is the only part of the triple crown that is in question.
Who is starting for Pittsburgh?
Roansy Contreras, a 22-year-old rookie right-hander from the Dominican Republic, will start Wednesday. He is 5-4 this season with a 3.24 E.R.A. He has been pitching well, with four straight starts in which he allowed one earned run or less, but he has not pitched deep into games, with only one of those starts lasting a full six innings.
Should we be excited?