NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge sent a sinker soaring into the left-field bleachers, another of his no-doubt drives, and circled the bases for the 60th time.
Modest throughout a march into history that now has him level with Babe Ruth, Judge then took a moment far more rare than one of his long balls — a curtain call.
“I really didn’t want to do it, especially, we’re losing. It’s a solo shot,” he said, recalling how his home run leading off the ninth inning only cut the Yankees’ deficit to three runs.
Eleven minutes later, Judge and the Yankees felt free to let loose.
Giancarlo Stanton followed Judge’s drive with a game-ending grand slam, completing New York’s stunning five-run, ninth-inning rally to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8 on Tuesday night.
“I kind of lost my mind,” said Judge, who is one homer shy of matching Roger Maris’ American League season record. “That’s a signature Giancarlo Stanton 10-foot laser to the outfield. I had a good front-row seat for that one. I think the whole team lost its mind and the stadium erupted.”
Judge homered on a 3-1 pitch from Wil Crowe (5-10) to match Ruth’s total from 1927, which stood as the big league record until Maris broke it 34 years later.
Judge is on pace for the AL’s first Triple Crown in a decade, leading in home runs, RBIs (128) and batting average (.316).
He dropped his bat near the plate — he never flips — and when he finished his trot, he exchanged a high-five with Anthony Rizzo, a hug with Gleyber Torres and slaps with Josh Donaldson. Judge walked up and down the dugout to receive congratulations and then emerged from the dugout steps and ever so briefly tipped his helmet to fans.
“I kind of joked around with Matt Carpenter earlier in the year, I think he had two homers in a game or something like that and he got a curtain call,” Judge said. “Man, I’ve been here six years and I ‘ve only got one curtain call. So I guess it takes hitting 60 to get another one.”
Rizzo doubled, Torres walked and Donaldson singled to load the bases. Stanton, mired in a 9-for-72 slump, sent a changeup half a dozen rows into the left-field seats, capping a 19-pitch sequence that will long be replayed and set off a raucous celebration among what remained of the crowd of 40,157.
Roger Maris Jr. and Kevin Maris, sons of the former player, were both on hand.
“I hit 60 tonight, and it’s like nothing happened. He’s got more work to do,” said Stanton, who hit 59 for Miami five years ago.
Crowe’s great, great uncle, Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, was Ruth’s teammate on the Yankees in the 1930s. Crowe visited Ruffing’s plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park before the game.
“He did what he was supposed to do with it,” Crowe said, “3-1 count, I’m not going to put him on. I felt like I wanted to go after him. Started away, came back in. I put a good swing on a bad pitch.”
Aroldis Chapman (3-3) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Bryan Reynolds tied it 4-4 with a seventh-inning home run off Lou Trivino and had a go-ahead single off Jonathan Loáisiga in the eighth for his fourth hit.
Rodolfo Castro — the player suspended for a game by Major League Baseball last month after a cell phone flew out of his pocket during a headfirst slide — followed with a three-run homer against Clay Holmes.
Holmes, an All-Star who slumped in the second half, was pitching against his former team for the first time.
Harrison Bader had a pair of go-ahead singles and drove in three runs in his debut for the Yankees. First baseman Anthony Rizzo made a key error that led to the four-run eighth inning for the already-eliminated Pirates.
Reynolds also had a three-base error on a dropped fly in center, one of two errors by a team that leads the major leagues with 108.
Nestor Cortes stopped his leg twice in a double hesitation windup to Reynolds in the third but gave up a single to center.
Former Yankees 3B Charlie Hayes, who caught the final out of the 1996 World Series, threw a ceremonial first pitch to his son, Pirates 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Pittsburgh promoted six players to Triple-A Indianapolis following the end of the season at Double-A Altoona: RHPs Quinn Priester and Colin Selby, 2B-C-OF Endy Rodriguez, INF Aaron Shackelford, 3B Malcom Nunez, OF Matt Gorski. “Now we have another 10 days of at-bats we can get them,” manager Derek Shelton said. “Losing 2020 was so vital for organizations like ours. The more reps we can get them, the better it is.”
Yankees: RHP Frankie Montas received a second cortisone injection in his ailing right shoulder and went on the 15-day IL, retroactive to Saturday. … LHP Zack Britton (Tommy John surgery) pitched a one-hit inning for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in his eighth rehab outing. RHP Miguel Castro (strained shoulder) pitched a hitless inning for the RailRiders.
New York RHP Luis Severino (5-3, 3.45) starts Wednesday after recovering from a lat strain that has sidelined him since July 13. RHP Roansy Contreras (5-4, 3.24) pitches for the Pirates.