Yankees’ Aaron Judge’s long journey to 62 is over

ARLINGTON, Texas — Aaron Judge is the new Yankee — and American League — home run king.

Judge led off Game 2 of the Yankees’ split doubleheader Tuesday against the Rangers with his 62nd homer of the season, breaking Roger Maris’ 61-year-old record in a 3-2 loss.

And given the performance-enhancing-drug ties to everyone who’s hit more homers than Judge, many will consider him the legitimate home run champ.

The 391-foot blast came on a 1-1 pitch from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco.

It also came in Game 161 for the Yankees.

Judge had gone five games without a home run since tying Maris’ mark and with time running out in the regular season.

But that changed just three pitches into Game 2, as Judge sent a slider into the left-field seats in front of a sold-out crowd of 38,832 at Globe Life Field.

Judge smiled broadly as he rounded the bases, with teammates spilling out of the dugout to greet him after Judge gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Aaron Judge watches his 62nd homer leave the yard during the Yankees' 3-2 loss in Game 2 of the doubleheader.
Aaron Judge watches his 62nd homer leave the yard during the Yankees’ 3-2 loss in Game 2 of the doubleheader.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

He remained in the game and was serenaded with chants of “MVP” while in right field before the bottom of the first.

After striking out to end the top of the second, Judge took the field in right before being replaced by Oswaldo Cabrera, who had been at second base. Judge left the field to another ovation.

And for good measure, in the bottom of the inning, Gerrit Cole passed Ron Guidry with his 249th strikeout of the season, breaking Guidry’s team record set in 1978.

Judge now has the most home runs hit in a season since Barry Bonds set his tainted record of 73 homers in 2001 with the Giants. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa also have finished with more home runs, but their marks are also blemished by ties to steroids.

Despite all that, Judge has said he considers Bonds to be the home run champ.

Judge played in every game since Aug. 3, but it wasn’t until Tuesday night that he eclipsed Maris.

It came after Judge went homerless in the opener on Tuesday, a 5-4 Yankee win, when he showed some rare emotion after making an out.

He popped out to end the top of the fifth and slammed his helmet into the helmet rack, an unusual display of emotion from the even-keeled slugger.

And unlike in earlier stretches in which Judge went without a home run, this time, he hadn’t been hitting much at all.

After getting one hit Tuesday afternoon, he had dropped to 7-for-35 with a double, a homer, 17 walks and 14 strikeouts in a dozen games since tying Babe Ruth’s former home run record of 60.

“He’s gotten some pitches to hit here the last couple days and generally he’s gotten a good swing off and fouled it off,’’ manager Aaron Boone said following the first game. “That’s usually the fine line [between] when you’re really rolling or just a tick off. Good pitches [to hit], instead of sticking them, like he has 61 times — and even more, obviously — he’s fouled some balls off.”

Everything to know about Aaron Judge and his chase for the home run record:




Before Judge hit No. 62 Boone said he wasn’t worried about whether Judge got the home run record.

“He’s the MVP of the league,’’ Boone said. “We’re talking about an historic record, obviously, so hopefully he gets it. But I don’t think … either way it doesn’t put a damper on what’s been an historically great season. Either way, he’s gonna be in a good spot heading into the postseason.”

In Tuesday’s opener, Judge grounded to short to leadoff the game, flied to right in the third, popped out in the fifth and singled to center in the eighth.

Kyle Higashioka walked with two outs in the top of the ninth to get Judge back to the plate again, which led to the loudest roars of the afternoon.

“I think that might have been the best ovation I’ve had,’’ Higashioka said. “It shows how much fans want it for him and how excited they are for one extra chance. … As teammates, we all want this for him, too. The chance to give him more opportunities, you push your hardest to get it done.”

Judge, though, grounded to shortstop.

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