Aaron Judge didn’t hit his American League record-tying 61st home run on Thursday night, but he found another way to make the game torturously memorable for the Boston Red Sox.
In the top of the ninth, leadoff man Tommy Pham roped one to deep right field. The ball went over Judge’s head, but he snagged it and fired to second, where Isiah Kiner-Falefa easily tagged Pham out.
Ryan Brasier had already blown the save in the bottom of the eighth (classic), but this out really felt like the death knell, a reminder of how much stronger and faster the Yankees have been all season long. The Sox took the game into the tenth inning, but when Josh Donaldson walked it off, he clinched the Yankees’ postseason berth.
Alex Cora endorses Aaron Judge for American League MVP
The throw was still on Sox skipper Alex Cora’s mind during postgame media availability, and he revealed that he thinks Judge should be this year’s AL MVP:
The MVP race has essentially been down to Judge and Shohei Ohtani for a while now. Ohtani, of course, continues to be a better version of Babe Ruth, pitching and hitting in spectacular fashion. Judge came into Thursday’s game leading MLB in runs scored, home runs, RBI, on-base and slugging percentages, OPS, OPS+, and total bases, and leading the AL in walks and batting average. He added three more walks in the series opener and came jaw-droppingly close to a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.
It’s pretty magnanimous of Cora to rise above the Rivalry to praise Judge. It’s a far cry from his iconic taunt, “We scored 16 in Yankee Stadium, suck on it!” at the beginning of the 2018 World Series parade, seemingly in response to the cockiness of Judge walking out of Fenway blasting “New York, New York” on his boombox after the Yankees won their first (and only) game of the ALDS.
Or maybe Cora is just trying to butter Judge up for when the Red Sox try to lure him away in free agency…