TORONTO — Aaron Judge is still searching for home run No. 61, but he hasn’t lost his batting eye or patience in the process.
Perhaps he could sponsor a walkathon in the meantime.
The Yankees slugger remained stuck at 60 home runs on Tuesday night, but not for a lack of discipline. He walked four times in five plate appearances on the way to a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays that clinched the AL East at Rogers Centre.
Judge drew full counts in all five plate appearances, facing 33 total pitches, reaching base four times and scoring a pair of runs. The only time he did not walk, in his first trip to the plate, he lined out to third base.
“Anything I can do to help us get a win, I’m gonna do,” Judge said in the champagne-soaked Yankees clubhouse. “If that’s to take a walk to get it to [Anthony] Rizzo, that’s what I’m gonna do. [It’s not frustrating] when you’re winning. I’ll take four walks for a win every day.”
Since pulling within one home run of Roger Maris’ American League and franchise record of 61 last Tuesday, Judge has gone 31 straight plate appearances without a home run. It marked the second-longest streak of his season, trailing only the 41 straight plate appearances he went without a homer in August.
The seven straight games without a home run also tied Judge’s second longest streak this season behind the nine-game run in August.
Still, Judge has found a way to be productive during this stretch, in which everyone in the ballpark is anticipating history when he comes up to bat. Since hitting No. 60, he has gone 5-for-19 with 12 walks (one intentional), eight strikeouts, three doubles and five runs scored.
The four walks Tuesday were a season-high for Judge and tied a career high. The other time it happened was on Sept. 4, 2017, during his Rookie of the Year, 52-homer season.
“His ability to lay off some pitches close and out of the zone, especially at the top of the order [is impressive],” manager Aaron Boone said. “Four walks tonight, he set the table. It’s just awesome to see the discipline that he’s shown and the consistency of at-bats while he’s going through this with all the attention around it. I keep saying he’ll get there, he’ll get it. But to see him rack up quality at-bat after quality at-bat is impressive.”
Judge now has eight games left to tie or pass Maris. But in the meantime, he is helping the batters behind him by letting them see plenty of pitches.
“Typical Judge,” Jameson Taillon said. “Extremely selfless, fine taking his walks, going to pass it to the next guy. It’s kind of just who he is.”
— Additional reporting by Dan Martin