With Aaron Judge on the cusp of history Thursday night against the Red Sox, he had to face a pitcher he’s had little success against in his career.
Judge had seen Boston starter Michael Wacha 15 times coming into Thursday at Yankee Stadium, going 0-for-14 with a walk and nine strikeouts since their first showdown in 2017.
In his quest to tie Roger Maris’ Yankees and AL mark of 61 home runs in a season, Judge was also trying to finally get a hit against Wacha.
In their latest go-round, Wacha escaped unscathed — in a sense. He walked Judge twice and struck him out in their final meeting Thursday. The two walks, in the first and third innings, prompted boos from the crowd at Yankee Stadium, still hoping to see Judge hit his 61st home run of the season.
Judge’s luck didn’t improve after Wacha was lifted, walking for a third time on the night against reliever John Schreiber, prompting more boos from the crowd. In the bottom of the ninth with a chance to make history with a walk-off homer, Judge came up just short with a 404-foot flyout against Matt Barnes.
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It was Josh Donaldson’s single in the bottom of the 10th that gave the Yankees a 5-4 win and clinched a playoff berth.
For Judge, he’ll get another shot at 61 on Friday — with opposing teams getting a good sense of what happens when he doesn’t go deep.
“Yeah, I kind of figured that’s what the crowd reaction was gonna be,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said after the loss. “I’ve been to Yankee Stadium a lot of times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody stay when the score’s like that, but you know, there was everybody in the ballpark.”