Not too long ago, both the Yankees and Aaron Judge were on historic paces. Now only Judge is.
Author: Dan Martin
Published: 2022-08-12 01:19 am
Aaron Judge worried about Yankees’ results, not homer records

BOSTON — Not too long ago, both the Yankees and Aaron Judge were on historic paces. 

The Yankees were looking at potentially making a run at the franchise record of 114 regular-season wins set in 1998 or the MLB record of 116, achieved by the Mariners three years later. 

And Judge was ready to make a run at Roger Maris’ record of 61 homers, the most in Yankee and American League history — and still considered by some to be the true home run record. 

But after a month of mediocrity — including a week of downright poor play — the win total milestone has become unrealistic. 

And it’s why Judge insists he’s still not focused on his own numbers, even having hit 45 homers heading into Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. 

“I’m not thinking about that at all,’’ Judge said of his numbers. “I’m not even close yet.” 

Aaron Judge

That’s a matter of debate, since he remains on a pace to hit 65 home runs this season with less than two months left. 

“What helps is that we’re playing important games,” Judge said. “We’ve got this big lead in the division and want to maintain it and we know we want home field [advantage] in the playoffs, so there’s other stuff to play for. We have games to win, so I’m not worried about stats.” 

One stat he is interested in is their place in the standings. 

The Yankees fell a half-game behind the Astros for the best record in the AL when Houston beat Texas 7-3 Thursday, but they remain firmly in control of the AL East, with a 10-game lead over Toronto. 

The lead had been as high as 15 ½ games on July 8 — which is the last time the Yankees were in Boston, when they appeared to be on their way to running away with the division and the best record in the AL and perhaps the majors. 

Since then, though, the Yankees lost the last two games at Fenway and have gone 10-18, including losing seven of their last eight. 

“It’s not that easy,’’ Judge said of winning the division. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get the job done and you know this is a part of it. Every good team goes through a moment like this and times like this. We’ll come out on the other side and be better for it. It’s good it happened now in August and not in September going into the postseason. We can learn from it.” 

What they’ve seen lately is an overreliance on Judge’s bat. 

He’s been on a tear pretty much the entire season, but even better in his last 21 games, going 33-for-76 (.434), with five doubles, 14 homers, 19 walks and 20 strikeouts to go along with an OPS of 1.614. 

It’s left Aaron Boone and most of Judge’s teammates without more ways to describe what he’s doing. But without contributions from the injured Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter, as well as Anthony Rizzo, who just returned from lower-back tightness and didn’t look comfortable at the plate in Wednesday’s loss in Seattle, the Yankee offense is much less intimidating — no matter what Judge is doing. 

As an example, the Yankees got another home run from Judge in the seventh inning, but it was one of just four hits. 

They’ve scored 52.6 percent of their runs with homers this season, the highest number in the majors — which is by design, but also leaves them susceptible to droughts, especially when they’ve got sluggers out of the lineup. 

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