Aaron Judge’s home run chase will bring extra buzz to Yankees

Aaron Judge’s home run chase will bring extra buzz to Yankees

The Greatest show on earth was unfolding in the ninth inning, and the Yankee Stadium crowd was standing and humming in anticipation of baseball’s most predictable result: Aaron Judge sending a pitch whistling over the outfield wall.

With one on and one out, facing a full-count and a chance to tie the game, Judge elevated a slider from Royals reliever Taylor Clarke toward that reliable ol’ porch in right. Nearly everyone’s immediate reaction to the launch was to think the gentle giant had just helped his ever-advancing place in Yankee mythology with his 43rd home run of the year, and his 10th in the last 10 games.

But Judge quickly realized that even he can’t impose his will on every clutch situation in a sport defined by maddening failure. He chastised himself halfway down the line. Though the mighty Casey didn’t strike out, he did hit what turned out to be a harmless fly ball in a four-hour, 8-6 loss to a last-place team.

Three straight victories over the Royals and an 11 ½-game lead in the AL East didn’t prevent the postgame questions to center around Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline and the Yankees’ need for an arm or two. The fact that Clay Holmes hasn’t been the same indomitable closer of late was notarized by Salvador Perez’s decisive three-run blast. The fact that Luis Castillo will be pitching for someone else the rest of the way will be hammered home when he takes the mound in The Bronx this week in the colors of the Seattle Mariners.

Does GM Brian Cashman have a counterpunch to throw to give his 69-34 team an even better chance to win it all for the first time since 2009? Said his manager, Aaron Boone: “I’m sure it’s going to be a crazy 48 hours in the baseball world.”

Aaron Judge
Corey Sipkin

And then everything will settle down. The Yankees will keep their runaway lead in the division through August and September, and then determine their own legacy in October. They won’t have much to play for between now and the postseason, so they will need a dog-days cause to carry them.

Aaron Judge’s home-run derby is that dog-days cause.

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