MILWAUKEE — Aaron Judge hit his 58th and 59th home runs of the season to move within two of Roger Maris’ American League record with 16 games remaining and lead the New York Yankees past the Milwaukee Brewers 12-8 on Sunday.
Judge added a two-run double in the ninth as part of a four-hit day for New York (88-58), which hit five homers and avoided a three-game sweep. The Yankees opened a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Toronto in the AL East and headed to the Bronx for a homestand against Pittsburgh and Boston that begins on Tuesday.
“They’re going to be like over the edge, slapping things, and beer is going to be flying everywhere,” predicted pitcher Gerrit Cole. “It’s probably not going to be a suitable environment for children in the bleachers. It’s going to be crazy.”
Judge’s 11th multihomer game tied the season record set by Detroit’s Hank Greenberg in 1938 and matched by Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs in 1998.
In pursuit of a Triple Crown, Judge leads the major leagues in homers and with 127 RBI. His .3162 batting average is just behind AL leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota at .317 and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts at .3164.
“There are some big games coming up,” Judge said. “That’s the only thing on my mind right now. My focus is to go out there and win a game.”
Milwaukee (78-68) fell two games behind San Diego, which plays later Sunday, for the third and final NL wild card.
The Judge’s houses were a total of 857 feet. His first came on a sinker from Jason Alexander with a 2-0 count in the third inning, a 414-foot, opposite-field drive into the second right field deck.
Judge became the first player with five batted balls of 110 mph or more in a game since Statcast began tracking in 2015, the hardest at 115.4 mph.
“You have to come up with your best stuff against him,” Alexander said. “I felt like I made good pitches, and it’s hard when you can paint one on the outside and it still puts 110 (mph) into the stands. It’s a thin margin of error.”
Then in the seventh against Luis Perdomo, Judge pulled a slider on a 1-2 count for a shot 443 feet to left.
“This is their moment right now. When you make a mistake against him, he’s going to take advantage of it,” Perdomo said.
Judge also walked Hoby Milner (3-3) to lead off a four-run fifth as the Yankees went ahead to stay at 7-4.
Judge had not hit a home run in the previous three games since going deep twice at Fenway Park in Boston.
Kyle Schwarber of Philadelphia is second in the major leagues with 39 homers. Judge became the first player since Mookie Betts in 2018 to top 10 WAR at FanGraphs. Since 2012, only Betts, Mike Trout (twice) and Buster Posey have reached that mark
Maris hit 61 homers for the Yankees in 1961, one more than Babe Ruth in 1927.
Anthony Rizzo returned from the injured list, his 31st of the season, and had three hits. Aaron Hicks and rookie Oswaldo Cabrera also went deep as the Yankees overcame deficits of 3-0 and 4-1.
New York had 16 hits and homers twice: Judge and Rizzo in the third, then Hicks and Judge in the seventh.
Cole (12-7) gave up Kolten Wong’s three-run homer in the first and Tyrone’s solo shot in the second, Cole has allowed the second-most in the majors and trailing only Josiah Gray Washington at 37.
“I don’t really have a good answer,” Cole said. “In some cases, it’s a wonderful thing. But I have to be better.”
Rowdy Tellez hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Clarke Schmidt. Milwaukee scored twice in the ninth and gave up the potential tying run with one out before Clay Holmes struck out Luis Urias and retired Keston Hiura on a groundout.
Yankees: Boone said the team was waiting for doctors to review an MRI taken on RHP Frankie Montas’ throwing shoulder. . RHP Scott Effross (strained right shoulder) gave up a leadoff homer to Bobby Dalbec and a pair of doubles as he pitched the fifth inning for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Worcester. … RHP Albert Abreu (elbow inflammation) pitched a scoreless inning for Double-A Somerset, striking out two and allowing one hit. … Boone said INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez was feeling better after being removed from Saturday’s game when he was hit on the helmet by a throw from Brewers catcher Victor Caratini while standing in the batter’s box. .C Jose Trevino was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day after leaving Friday’s game with a bruised right knee.
Yankees: LHP Nestor Cortes (10-4, 2.70 ERA) will make his 26th start of the season.
Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes (10-7, 2.97) gets the start as Milwaukee opens a three-game home series with the New York Mets. Burnes is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA against the Mets.
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