Big day has Yankees’ minds on catching up to Red Sox
Judge, Sanchez get two homers each vs. Rangers
Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge took turns on Sept. 10 blasting baseballs to distant parts of Globe Life Ballpark — a launching pad for the New York Yankees’ late push toward October.
Capturing the AL East has been “our goal from Day One,” Judge said after the Yankees’ 16-7 win against the Rangers. “We keep playing our game, good things will happen and we’ll be where want to be.”
Boosted by two homers apiece – Nos. 29 and 30 for Sanchez, Nos. 40 and 41 for Judge – the Yankees moved to within 31⁄ games of the first-place Boston Red Sox, while holding a 31⁄ game wild-card lead on the Minnesota Twins.
And then the Yankees arrived back in New York for 17 of their final 20 games.
“Absolutely, we can catch up to the Red Sox,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. The rivals don’t have any head-to-head game remaining, but “I really don’t worry about they’re doing, I worry about what we do.
“And I feel like if we play the best baseball we’re capable of playing, then we’ll catch them.’’
The Yanks’ assault on the Texas bullpen came with some historic numbers attached.
With his solo shot in the fourth, Judge became the second rookie in major league history to hit at least 40 homers in a season, since Mark McGwire’s 49 in 1989.
Judge also joined Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth as the only Yankees to reach 40 home runs in their age-25 season or younger.
“Never as a kid would I think I’d be in the same sentence with those guys, so it’s quite an honor,’’ Judge said. “Pretty humbling.”
And that was before he sent No. 41 an estimated 463 feet, into the Yanks’ bullpen, to complete a three-RBI day.
Judge had already established a new major league rookie record with his second-inning walk, No. 107 on the year – breaking a 75year-old mark set by Cleveland’s Les Fleming in 1942.
That “anything-I-can-to-geton-base’’ approach kept Judge channeled during his second-half slide and impressed the likes of Sanchez, who didn’t truly get hot until August.
As for reaching 30 homers after missing a month earlier this year because a biceps strain, “it’s nice, but you can’t really focus on that stuff too much,’’ said Sanchez, whose eighth-inning solo blast to center was measured at 461 feet.
“It’s incredible when you look at what these kids have done,’’ manager Joe Girardi said of the combined 71 homers by Judge and Sanchez.
All that power and an 18-hit attack – the most hits and runs by the Yanks (77-65) all season – gave Girardi’s club its third consecutive series win following a three-game sweep by crazy-hot Cleveland Indians.
And with six series left it’s about continuing a trend.
“Winning series,’’ Girardi said. “If we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish, we need to do that.’’
Caldera writes for The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge hit his 40th and 41st home runs on Sunday, leaving him eight behind the rookie record.