Aaron Judge Acknowledges the Pressure of the Chase After Hitting No. 62

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Dallas, Texas Aaron Judge grinned as he approached first base.

Judge seldom displayed any signs of being under pressure to break the home run mark or being frustrated that it was taking longer than anticipated. Many people across the baseball globe have been watching each of his at-bats for the past two weeks to see if he will hit a record-breaking 62 home runs this season. Fans of the opposition clapped for him. His teammates and coaches prayed that he would soon be free of the burden.

In the opening game of Tuesday’s doubleheader between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, the final game of one of the greatest offensive seasons in history, Judge did manage to vent some frustration. He popped out and hit his helmet against a rack in the dugout. For Judge, it was an unusually public outburst. Later on, he said that his recent bad at-bats and inability to support his team had disturbed him.

Judge could unwind after Jess Tinoco’s 391-foot home hit, which broke Roger Maris’ previous record and set a new one for the American League, landed in section 31 of Globe Life Field and cleared the left field wall. He had at last completed it.

After that, he sighed in relief and grinned. Now that everyone has found a place, they can presumably start watching the game.

Many people, including Judge, his family, teammates, coaches, the Maris family, Yankees fans, as well as his rivals and their supporters, had been anticipating this explosion. Only six players have ever hit 60 or more home runs in a season in baseball history. The three players with more than Judge Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa all did so prior to Major League Baseball’s introduction of steroid testing, and they have all been implicated in drug controversies.

Aaron Boone, the manager of the New York Yankees, said he started to believe that Judge had a chance to surpass Roger Mariss’ 1961 record as Judge built up home runs over the course of the summer and hit his 50th in late August. Judge claimed that since he puts so much emphasis on the daily grind of the sport and because he sets lofty objectives for himself every winter, he is unable to identify that exact moment in time. I believe I can go out there and hit 70 home runs every year, he remarked.

But compared to Judge’s prior five and a half months, the last few weeks have felt tedious. He homered once every 11 plate appearances in his first 142 games of this season. However, after he hit 60 home runs, it took him 35 plate appearances to hit his next long ball, a slower rate brought on by a mix of teams intentionally walking him and his missing the few pitches he did get over the plate.

Judge felt relieved when he hit home run number 61. But after that, there was more interest and anticipation. To get the next home run, it took another 24 at-bats.

Judge turned his head away from the plate during that time. In 17 at-bats, he only managed three hits, none of which went for extra bases. Because Minnesota’s Luis Arraez will be hitting.316 heading into the final day of the regular season, his average dipped to.311, therefore ruining his chances of achieving the uncommon achievement of a triple crown. When Judge took the plate at Globe Life Field, the crowd applauded and booed him when he failed to hit a ball over the fences.

He laughed as he recalled how eager people were for him to create history: “I got a base hit the other night and I was getting booed for a single.”

Judge began a total of 55 consecutive games in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Most of the team’s regular players have had days off since the Yankees won the A.L. East on September 27 and gained a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Boone claimed that he had at the very least thought about giving Judge one on Monday or during one of Tuesday’s games. But he argued that he hadn’t seen Judge physically worn out from the chase to require one. Boone added that Judge would likely be the one to decide whether or not to take a break during this time.

I believe he was carrying it around even though it wasn’t weighing him down significantly. It’s a type of craziness and anticipation every day, Boone remarked.

Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ starting pitcher, added, “To be honest, this is the first time I’ve seen it wear on him just a little bit.” Not personally, I don’t believe, but most likely out of a sense of altruism, as in, I want to make everyone happy.

Judge, though, wished to continue the game. A record needed to be broken. And Judge, who has previously struggled with injuries and will be a free agency after this season, has consistently cited his ability to play more this season than ever before as the main factor in his success. Wednesday was his final opportunity as the regular season was drawing to a close.

He claimed that the pace of the games began to pick up. Typically, games drag on as you focus on your at-bats, defense, and other such tasks. I won’t lie, though; in the last two of games, I’ve noticed that it’s the seventh inning and thought, “Dang, I just have one more at-bat.” We must resolve this. Due to what I believe to be a slight increase in pressure, I never really attempted to look at a schedule. I made an effort to take things day by day and to pray a little.

When Judge on the field to start the second game on Tuesday, he said he felt at ease. 38,832 spectators, the greatest paying crowd in Globe Life Fields’ two-year history, shouted for him louder than the Rangers. Judge claimed that when he made contact with Tinocos’ 88 mph slider over the center of the plate, he had a strong intuition that it was gone. When he saw the ball cross the barrier, he claimed a sense of relief overcame him, and he remembered the individuals who had helped him along the way: his wife, his parents, his teammates, and the supporters.

Cole claimed that the swing was wonderful. It was just so, so incredibly cool, Boone continued, “You never know how you’re going to react in a moment.” I reverted to feeling like a child.

Judge’s teammates and coaches were waiting for him at home plate, and they all gave him hugs one by one. He later added, “Those guys are grinding with me every single day and they’ve been along this path through the ups and downs, so to get a chance to share that moment with them on the field was very wonderful.” He described the experience as being somewhat surreal.

Origin: Baseball Reference

The top 250 single-season home run scorers since 1911 are represented on this graph by the players. All of the seasons from 1988 to 2003 are considered the steroid era (that doesnt mean no doping occurred before or after). Judge waved his helmet in the direction of the Rangers bench and stands as he exited the field and entered the dugout. Fans in the outfield bleachers started chanting Judge’s name when he took the field in right field. They do this for every Yankee player on the field until they recognize them with a wave, which Judge did.

When asked if he felt the pressure of the chase now that the record had been broken, Judge pondered for a while.

Every time I batted, my teammates were lined up on the top step expecting for me to do something, and every time I hit a double, got a walk, or did something else, I felt like I was disappointing them, he said. If I had a 2-for-4 game or a 1-for-4 game with a few walks, I felt as though I had let down the Yankee Stadium or the spectators that came to these last two games. I never made an effort to perceive it as pressure. I made an effort to savor every second.

Further history was created following Judge’s blast. The record for the most strikeouts by a Yankee in a season was broken by Ron Guidry in 1978 when Cole recorded his 249th strikeout of 2022 in the bottom of the first inning. Outside the dugout, Coles’ teammates stood and cheered. He and Judge also received a toast from their teammates in the clubhouse following the game.

But soon the focus returned to Judge. M-V-P, M-V-P! chants once more greeted Judge as he stepped to the plate in the top of the second inning. In the second half of the period, Boone removed Judge from the field, giving him another round of hugs from teammates and more applause from the crowd.

Judge viewed the remaining play of the Yankees’ 3-2 defeat from the dugout. He was now able to sleep.

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