ANAHEIM — A 434-foot drive from Angels reliever Ryan Tepera etched Aaron Judge’s name into the major league history books Monday night, as the New York Yankees slugger became the 10th player in the league. history of MLB to record multiple 50-home run seasons.
A sold-out Angel Stadium crowd of 44,537, including his parents and many Yankees fans, cheered the California-born judge on with an “MVP!” hold off as he circled the bases after his eighth-inning solo explosion that bounced off the left center field waterfall and cut New York’s deficit to one in a 4-3 loss.
Judge is now on pace to hit 63 homers this season, assuming he plays in all of the Yankees’ remaining games.
“It’s just another number,” said Judge, who intentionally went on balls twice on Monday before going deep. “It’s great, but I’m a little upset that we lost. It’s a tight game that we could have won.
In 2017, during his Rookie of the Year campaign, Judge smashed 52 long balls, setting a rookie record that was broken two years later when Pete Alonso hit 53 for the New York Mets.
Judge now joins Babe Ruth (four) and Mickey Mantle (two) as the third member of the famed Yankees franchise to have multiple 50 homer seasons while wearing stripes. Alex Rodriguez had one of those seasons playing for the Yankees (2007, with 54 homers) and two more as a member of the Texas Rangers.
There have been 10 50-home run seasons by Yankees players, the most of any MLB franchise, with the next closest team being the Chicago Cubs (five). No other franchise has more than two.
Judge becomes only the seventh player in MLB history to hit 50 homers before the start of September; the last player to do so was current teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who had recorded 51 home runs on Aug. 29 during his 59-home run 2017 National League MVP season with the Miami Marlins.
“It’s 50 years and it’s August,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s hard to understand what an amazing season he’s had so far. The only time they threw him he hit a rock. It’s really special what he does.”
“It’s going to be fun last month to see what he can do,” Stanton added. “I think he’s going to do something amazing. He’s done it before. We’ve got another month to watch.”
The 6-foot-7 judge, who bats 293/.393/.665 with 110 RBIs, is chasing the Yankees single-season record of 61 home runs set by Roger Maris in 1961. Maris had recorded 51 home runs by the end of August during his legendary 1961 season.
“I’m not downplaying it. I just don’t like talking about numbers,” Judge said. “We can talk about numbers and all that stuff when the season is over, we can see it again, but right now the most important thing for me is getting wins.”
The Angels held off the Yankees with the help of two-way star and reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani, who broke a 2-for-all tie in the fifth inning with his 29th homer, a two-run drive down center right. According to Caesars Sportsbook, entering Monday night, Judge (-900) and Ohtani (+600) had the shortest odds of winning the AL MVP this year, followed by Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (+8000) and Houston’s Yordan Alvarez ( +8000).
There were plenty of Yankees fans in attendance, so many that Judge called it a “home away from home”, and boos were audible whenever the angels intentionally walked him around. But it was also a fun atmosphere for Ohtani. Even though the MVP chants were for the judge.
“It’s gratifying to be able to play in front of a crowd like this,” Ohtani said through a team rep. “No matter who they cheer for, I was able to have a lot of fun playing.” ‘
There’s a video that’s gone viral on social media that shows Judge in a batting cage predicting he’s going to hit 50 home runs. His prediction was right on the number, he just got the year wrong.
“Man, this video is a few years old,” Judge said. “I was a little late for that one. I missed it regardless of the year, maybe 19. Like I said, I try not to think about it. The offseason, you can dream. You write down goals and things you want to accomplish during the year, but once the season starts, you’re here competing. It’s about trying to get as many wins as possible. .”
ESPN Stats & Information and Associated Press contributed to this report.