Two home games remain for Aaron Judge to deliver his 62nd home run and achieve the milestone that Yankee Stadium crowds are anticipating.
His next chance comes Saturday afternoon when the New York Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles on the 61st anniversary of Roger Maris getting his 61st home run,although heavy rain is forecast for the New York area.
Judge matched Maris' American League single-season record on Wednesday by hitting a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning of the Yankees' 8-3 win in Toronto. New York (96-60) clinched the AL East title against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
On Friday, the Yankees saw an eight-game home winning streak end with a 2-1 loss to the Orioles. Judge went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks to extend his on-base streak to a season-high 28 games.
"It was a pretty electric atmosphere," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I actually found myself kind of nervous for his first at-bat, maybe just being all focused on it."
Judge faced Baltimore starter Jordan Lyles three times on Friday and then was intentionally walked by Felix Bautista in the eighth to put two on.
"After every swing he took, you could hear audible gasps from the whole entire crowd," Baltimore rookie catcher Adley Rutschman said. "Every time he swung (it was) just a big buildup, so that was pretty cool."
During the on-base streak, Judge is batting .419 (39-for-93) with 12 homers, 21 RBIs and 34 walks, including 10 intentional free passes. In nine games since hitting his 60th homer on Sept. 20, Judge has reached in 22 of 40 plate appearances (seven hits and 15 walks)
The Orioles (81-76) saw their longshot playoff hopes end Friday night when the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland A's 2-1.
On the positive side, Baltimore is assured of at least a .500 record after scratching out a win in the opener at New York. The Orioles will finish with a non-losing record for the first time since 2016, having made major improvement after going 52-110 last season.
"It just means that we exceeded expectations and that our guys fought all year long," Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. "There's a lot of appreciation for what these guys have done this year around the league and it's well deserved."
Rutschman scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch on Friday, and teammate Ryan Mountcastle hit an RBI single. Baltimore withstood its encounters with Judge and survived going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Nestor Cortes (11-4, 2.56 ERA), who pitched six scoreless, one-hit innings in a rain-shortened complete game Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, is set to start for the Yankees on Saturday. Cortes is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts since returning from a groin injury Sept. 8, and he is 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA in his past 10 starts.
The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in six career games (four starts) against the Orioles. This season he is 1-0 with 11 scoreless innings in two starts against Baltimore.
Austin Voth (5-3, 4.19 ERA), whom Judge has never faced, goes for Baltimore in his first career start against the Yankees. Voth's only previous experience against the Yankees came on May 9, 2021, in New York when, pitching for the Washington Nationals, he allowed three walks and one hit in two shutout innings.
Voth is 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 16 starts this season after posting an 8.17 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He last pitched Sunday, when he allowed one run on four hits in five innings during a no-decision against the Houston Astros.
--Field Level Media