Maybe the ghost of the Babe was watching over them Tuesday night.
Aaron Judge led off the bottom of the ninth inning of what looked like a blowout loss to the Pirates with a 430-foot shot to left-center field for his 60th home run of the season. Judge tied Babe Ruth’s 1927 home run record and sparked a four-run rally that was capped with Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off home run for a 9-8 win over the Pirates at Yankee Stadium.
Judge is one shy of the American League record set by Roger Maris in 1961, with Maris’ family in attendance at the Stadium to see him challenge his record.
With the 430-foot shot off of Pirates’ right-hander Will Crowe, Judge became just the sixth player in Major League history (ninth time) to hit at least 60 home runs in a single season, tying Babe Ruth’s long-standing 1927 record of 60. Judge is now tied for the second most homers in Yankees’ history. He is one shy of the team and American League record set by Roger Maris in 1961.
Only Maris, Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999) and Sammy Sosa (64 in 2001 and 63 in 2001) have hit more home runs in a single season.
Anthony Rizzo followed Judge with a double and Gleyber Torres drew a walk. Josh Donaldson had his fly ball to shallow center drop in and Stanton crushed his 27th homer of the season to win it.
The Yankees bullpen raised concerns again Tuesday night. After Nestor Cortes Jr. held the Pirates to a run over five innings, the relievers gave up seven runs — six of them earned — in four innings. Clay Holmes, who was a dominant closer at one point this season, has allowed four earned runs over his last five appearances.
Bryan Reynolds homered off Lou Trivino in the seventh to tie the game and singled in the eighth to put his team in front. He scored on Rodolfo Castro’s home run off Clay Holmes in the eighth to give Pittsburgh a 8-4 lead.
The Yankees had looked into acquiring Reynolds at the trade deadline, instead they got native New Yorker Harrison Bader, who had an excellent Bombers debut Tuesday night.
“With all due respect to Yankees fans, I mean, I think it is great for the fans here to have a New York native and a lot of the fans that have cheered us on during the games,” Bader said. “I was that when I was younger, so it definitely is special. And again, I just want to be the best version of myself for them. I think Jeter said it best when he said that fans boo because they want to cheer. So I’m gonna go out there and do my best to give him something to cheer for. And hopefully it’s a win after nine innings.”
Aaron Judge grounded out to second and third base in his first two at-bats. He got an unintentional intentional walk in the fifth and Duane Underwood, Jr. struck him out with a high cutter in the sixth.
After striking out in his first at-bat, Bader singled in a run in the fifth inning. He scored from second on an excellent read of Pirates’ center fielder Bryan Reynolds trying to come in on Jose Trevino’s shallow fly ball. In the sixth inning, after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Bader singled through a drawn-in infield to bring in both runners.
The Bombers traded lefty Jordan Montgomery for Bader, even though he had not played since June because of plantar fasciitis. The New York native was excited to put the injury and rehab in the past and get going Tuesday night against the Pirates at Yankee Stadium.
“I’m excited to get on anything. I’m excited to put on any big league uniform and I’m excited to go out there and compete at the major level,” Bader said. “So it’s definitely some special history year for me here, I was in the stands here when I was younger.
“But, again at the end of the day, we got to be effective,” Bader said. “We got a baseball game to win so I’m just gonna focus on taking clean routes to the ball and go out there and just hit my first cut off man.”
Bader, who grew up in Bronxville and went to the private school Horace Mann, was a career .246/.320/.409 hitter in six seasons with the Cardinals. He has 52 career homers and 168 RBI. Bader is recognized as a defense-first player, one Cardinals official said they were willing to move him because they think he’s hit his ceiling offensively.