PITTSBURGH -- Aaron Judge reached a home run milestone marker Wednesday, and he did it in grand fashion.
The Yankees’ center fielder, who leads the Major Leagues in home runs, extended his total further with a torched grand slam in the eighth inning against former New York teammate Manny Bañuelos in a 16-0 win over the Pirates. It was Judge’s 30th dinger of the season, and it put him in elite company among the Yankees’ storied ranks.
With the slam, Judge tied Alex Rodriguez (2007) and, well, himself (‘17) for the second-most home runs before the All-Star break in Yankees history. Roger Maris’ 33 homers in 1961 still stands as the record to beat. (Babe Ruth hit 32 in three seasons -- ‘21, ‘28 and ‘30 -- but all came before the first All-Star Game in ‘33.)
Judge is also the third player in American League history with multiple seasons of 30 or more homers before the All-Star break, joining Ken Griffey Jr. (‘94, ‘97 and ‘98) and Mark McGwire ('87 and '97).
“I turned to [bench coach Carlos Mendoza] about an inning later and said, ‘He’s got 30 homers,’” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Yeah, it’s hard for me to relate to that. It’s been pretty impressive halfway in here, the kind of baseball he’s playing, and obviously the power has been right there.”
This dinger was no wall-scraper either. Judge flexed his muscle to power the baseball 114.7 mph off the bat, sending it over PNC Park's left-field wall a Statcast-projected 419 feet. It put the Yankees up by nine runs as they continued their historic run through the 2022 season.
Judge has already swung his way into the 2022 All-Star Game, thanks to being the top vote-getter in the AL in the first phase of All-Star voting, but his sights are still on the bigger picture of playing for October.
“I’m glad it came in a win,” Judge said. “I think that’s what’s more important here, with the way this team has been rolling.”