ANAHEIM — After he had already been intentionally walked twice, to the growing frustration of the crowd here Monday night hoping to see history, Aaron Judge finally got a pitch to hit. The Yankees slugger did not miss it. Judge hammered it deep into center field, off the rocks at Angels Stadium and for his historic 50th home run of the season.
That was not enough, however, to stop the Yankees’ slide. The Angels hit three home runs, including Shohei Ohtani’s two-run homer to beat the Bombers 4-3.
The 434-foot home run came off of Angels’ reliever Ryan Tepera in the eighth inning. With 33 games to go, Judge is only 11 home runs away from the American League and Yankee record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961.
It is just the 47th 50-home run season in major league history and Judge became just the 10th man in baseball history to hit 50 home runs in two seasons of his career. He hit 52 in his rookie year of 2017. He joins Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa who each did it four times, Alex Rodriguez (three times) and Jimmy Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr., Ralph Kiner, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays who each had two 50-homer seasons.
But with the Yankees (78-51) having dropped three straight games to losing teams, going 9017 in the month of August and 14-23 since the All-Star break, Judge wasn’t in a celebratory mood Monday night.
“I’ll be thinking about a 4-3 loss that we had in Anaheim,” Judge said on what this night will mean to him. “I’ll be thinking about how I wish it could have been a little sweeter with a victory but you gotta give me some time once the season’s over and we’ll ask me that question again.”
Judge’s exciting run is not sparking the Yankees offense.
Monday night was the fourth straight game in which the Bombers scored fewer than four runs. It was the 16th time in the last 23 games they were held under four runs. The top five hitters in the Yankees lineup went 2-for-17 Monday night with one RBI. DJ LeMahieu brought in a run on a safety squeeze in the third inning.
And as his home run total climbs into the historic area, Judge is getting fewer and fewer pitches to hit. The two intentional walks Monday night matched a career high for him, only the second time it’s happened in his career. He’s been walked intentionally 11 times this season.
But Judge takes that as a challenge.
“It’s easier because I know I gotta lock it in from the very first pitch I see because that might be the best pitch I see. It’s fun,” Judge said. “You like having that, I wouldn’t say pressure, but that expectation. That’s all about trying to lead your team and help them when they could be on the first pitch or it could be a third pitch you see in the seventh or eighth inning, you never know.”
Anthony Rizzo, who was dropped into the No.6 spot for the first time since 2013, hammered his first home run since Aug. 17 in the fourth inning. The 411-foot, solo shot to right field was an encouraging sign for the first baseman who was hitting .200/.273/.300 with a .573 OPS and a home run after missing five games with lower back tightness.
Frankie Montas allowed four earned runs on eight hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter over 6.1 innings. Montas gave up a career high-tying three homers, including a go-ahead, two-run shot to Ohtani.
The right-hander dropped to 0-2 in five starts with the Yankees with a 6.92 ERA.
Montas gave up a lead off homer to Luis Rengifo in the second inning and after Rizzo briefly gave him the lead he gave up a game-tying home run to former Yankee Mike Ford. It was Ford’s first home run since May 22, 2021, when he was still with the Yankees.
In the fifth, Montas threw four straight splitters to Ohtani, who came into the game hitting 9-21 with three home runs against him.
“I should have thrown him something hard,” Montas admitted.
Ohtani hammered the fourth splitter for the go-ahead, game-winning homer.
And that spoiled what ended up being a historic night for Judge.