The New York Yankees have won 89 games in their roller coaster 2022 season. They’ve won thousands of games across eras spanning from Babe Ruth to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson to Ronald Torreyes. They have absolutely, positively, never won a game exactly like that.
Entering the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday evening in the Bronx, the story of the series opener was another set of bullpen failures, perpetrated by Lou Trivino, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Clay Holmes. The only potential joy for the home crowd, it seemed, sat on the bat of Aaron Judge, leading off the ninth down 8-4.
Looking for a 60th home run that could at least relieve a little pressure ahead of the stretch run, Judge walloped a 3-1 fastball from Pirates reliever Wil Crowe, who entered the ninth 4-for-10 in save opportunities on the season. Eagle-eyed fans noted that and nodded, assuming it still was unlikely to factor into the outcome.
And those fans were right. After all, you don’t get a save for protecting a four-run lead. Crowe didn’t even record an out in his quest to accomplish that task.
First, Judge unloaded to cross the 60-bomb threshold and shake hands with the great Babe Ruth, who never topped that mark in his illustrious career.
Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits 60th home run, Giancarlo Stanton walks off with a grand slam
Sadly, that was only the second most impactful dinger of the inning.
Anthony Rizzo doubled. Gleyber Torres walked. The chatter in the broadcast booth began to turn from a somber, Judge-focused recap to an optimism-infused cocking of the eybrows.
Josh Donaldson blooped a single into the gap. On a two-strike pitch, Giancarlo Stanton stomped on a LASER into the left-field seats. It was the ghostliest of bombs.
Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season on Sept. 30, 1927. Judge hit his on Sept. 20. Beat him by a hair.
The reliever who surrendered the blast, Wil Crowe? He’s a distant relative of Ruth’s teammate Red Ruffing, who was a Red Sox in 1927, but was sold to the Bombers before the 1930 season, presumably to finance another Broadway play.
He made the Hall of Fame, years after Ruth. And nine decades later, the baseball sent into the stratosphere by Judge will be joining both of them. Perhaps Stanton’s grand-slam shot can tag along, too.
After all, as Judge would inform you, that’s the ball that counted. It brought the Yankees the win.