Sat, Sep 24, 2022 5:50 PM
By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge tried to hold up his swing on a 2-2 fastball from Boston's John Schreiber that was darting high and outside through the afternoon shadows.
Chris Conroy signaled strike three, and Judge pointed his left arm at the first base umpire, then waved in disgust toward the ump while walking back to the Yankees dugout.
“Judgy reacts. He just doesn't go argue with you,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Saturday after Judge went homerless for the fourth straight game and remained one shy of Roger Maris’ American League record of 61. “It was a case of he felt like he held a swing, A simple reaction, but he was locked right back in.”
New York beat the Red Sox 7-5 to close in on its first AL East title since 2019, getting a tiebreaking, two-run homer from Anthony Rizzo in the seventh off Schreiber (3-4).
Judge was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, a flyout to medium center and a walk. Since hitting No. 60 to spark a ninth-inning comeback on Tuesday night, Judge is 3 for 13 with two doubles, five walks and six strikeouts.
His batting average dropped to .314 as Boston's Xander Bogaerts went 2 for 4 and took over the AL lead at .315. Judge leads the major leagues with 128 RBIs and is in contention for the first Triple Crown since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.
With the Maris and Judge families again in attendance, the sellout crowd of 47,611 stood and buzzed each time Judge walked to the plate, then quieted for each pitch, as if focusing on a circus attraction called on to perform some feat. Each foul was met with groans, pitches out of the strike zone with boos.
“Even for a guy that hit 60 home runs, he still doesn’t hit them every day,” Boone said. "A lot of things got to line up to go deep, even for the best of the best. So as long as he continues to take good at-bats and make good swing decisions, it’ll happen sooner rather than later."
Rizzo drove a changeup into the right-field bleachers two pitches later to break a 5-5 tie, reaching his career high of 32 homers for the fourth time.
Judge was on deck when the eighth inning ended, and a large percentage of fans rooted for the Red Sox to overcome a two-run deficit in the ninth. Scott Effross sidelined by a strained right shoulder since Aug. 20, allowed Boston to load the bases before getting his third save when Bobby Dalbec grounded into a game-ending forceout.
“Actually it was kind of weird. The last inning there was a section towards right field, they started chanting ‘Let’s Go Red Sox!’ and it was a bunch of Yankee fans," Boston manager Alex Cora said. “They were wearing their jerseys.”
Already assured a playoff berth, New York (93-58) has won six straight and 10 of 12, surpassing last year’s wins total and opening an 8 1/2-game division lead. The Yankees have 11 games remaining, finishing the four-game series Sunday before heading to Toronto for three games.
Boston (72-79) is on a four-game skid and likely headed to its second losing record in three years.
Triston Casas and Reese McGuire homered in the second against Domingo Germán, who allowed three runs and three hits in five innings. Alex Verdugo tied it at 5 with an RBI single in the seventh against Lucas Luetge (4-4).
Casas, Boston's 22-year-old rookie first baseman, spoke with Judge after the Yankees star walked.
“I just tried to tell him I’m a fan,” Casas said, "let him know I appreciate what he’s doing and he’s such a great guy.”
New York reliever Zack Britton, recovered from Tommy John surgery, entered in the sixth with a 5-3 lead in his first big league appearance since Aug. 19 last year. He reached 94.7 mph and walked three of five batters with a hit and a strikeout, forcing in a run.
“Very anxious, warming up and stuff,” he said. “It’s about getting back to being who I want to be, throwing late in games, contributing, having good innings.”
He used PitchCom for the first time to get signals.
"I feel like everyone in the stadium can hear what I’m throwing," he said.
Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader sprinted to make a diving catch on Abraham Almonte in short center for the second out of the eighth with two on.
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (shoulder inflammation) will be evaluated Monday after making a three-inning rehab start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday.
LHP Nestor Cortes (10-4, 2.67 ERA) starts Sunday night’s series finale for the Yankees and RHP Brayan Bello (2-6, 4.75 ERA) for the Red Sox. The teams meet for the 19th time this year, six more than under the 2023 balanced schedule.
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