Yankees vs Red Sox: Aaron Judge chases Roger Maris’ AL record 61 home runs as New York faces Boston

On Thursday, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-4 to seal their spot in the 2022 postseason, but that performance was overshadowed by Judge and his pursuit of greatness.

The right fielder almost made history in the 2nd of the ninth inning. The slugger’s connection seemed destined to reach the net from midfield, but fell just short into the glove of Kiké Hernández.

“Just a little under there,” Judge said after the game. “It was a pretty windy night. I was hoping it would blow out. Just miss it.”

With the Yankees qualified for the postseason and the Red Sox have nothing to play for in the season other than pride, Judge will take center stage as he strives for a great performance.

The 30-year-old already matched Babe Ruth’s total from more than 90 years ago and could tie — or surpass — Maris’ 61-year-old record, sealing his place among the all-time hitting greats.

“I keep saying, Aaron Judge; everybody just needs to watch and take notice,” Yankees head coach Aaron Boone said earlier this week after Judge hit his 60th HR. “I can say this because I’ve lived this and he’s shown this: he puts his focus on a great teammate and winning. He knows everything else will take care of itself.”

While Judge probably won’t reach the major league record of 73 home runs in a single season, many people have put aside that number — held by Barry Bonds — or any home run season north of 61 home runs because all those guys were injured were in performance enhancing drug scandals and allegedly used steroids. Bonds and Sammy Sosa have denied these allegations.

The judge does not agree with that claim. Last week, he told Sports Illustrated: “Seventy-three is the record in my book. Whatever people want to say about that era of baseball, to me they went out there and hit 73 homers and 70 homers, and to me that’s what the record is .

“[The] AL record is 61, so that’s one I can try to go after. If it happens, it happens. If not, it’s been a fun year so far.”

Judge also has a real chance to join Yankee legend Mickle Mantle — who did so in 1956 — as one of two men to hit for baseball’s Triple Crown in the season in which they hit 50+ home runs. hit the ballpark. Judge has clear leads in home runs and RBIs in the American League. He traded leads with Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Minnesota’s Luis Arráez for the batting average crown.

Despite his modest demeanor, Judge is on the verge of becoming a true New York Yankee with the historic offensive performance of this season.

As Boone said, “I think it puts it a notch above. I have to believe that it is right there with some of the best very short list of all-time seasons.”

CNN’s Harry Enten contributed to this report.