TORONTO — There was finally something to celebrate Tuesday night.
While Aaron Judge is still chasing history, he drew four walks and scored twice as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 5-2 to clinch the title. American League East and the No. 2 seed in the American League playoffs.
It’s just the second division title for the Yankees (95-59) in the last 10 seasons. They also won in Aaron Boone’s second season in 2019, when they advanced to the AL Championship Series. The No. 2 seed also comes with a first-round bye under the new MLB playoff structure. The Blue Jays (87-68) are still in play for an AL wild-card berth.
While the Yankees would go an impressive 16-7 in September after a brutal August 10-18 stretch, it was still a bit of an antagonism in which Judge hit 60 home runs for the seventh straight game. He is a shy person. Famous Yankee and American League regular season record 61. Instead of powering the Yankees on Tuesday night, Judge wielded the stick. Gleyber Torres was 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Aaron Hicks doubled in one run and Anthony Rizzo singled in the other. Kyle Higashioka was also 3-for-4.
And Jameson Talon, after giving up a leadoff homer to George Springer, was devastatingly effective, retiring 16 of the next 17 batters he faced. Springer struck him out in the bottom of the sixth. He allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out six. For the 13th time in 31 starts, he did not issue a walk.
Blue Jays pitchers challenged Judge, who finished 2-for-1 on Tuesday night. He went full counts in each of his five starts, going 0-1 in his first four.
In his first at-bat Tuesday night, Judge hit a ball into third baseman Matt Chapman’s glove. In the third inning, Judge came to bat with Higashioka with one out. He fell behind 0-1, but drew an eight-pitch walk as the Yankees started a rally. Rizzo’s ground ball got past second baseman Whit Merrifield and scored Higashioka. Then, Judge scored on Torres’ single to center field.
In the fifth, Judge drew a six-pitch walk and scored on another single by Torres. In the top of the sixth, with one out and Hicks on second, the Blue Jays brought in right-hander Zach Popp, who had originally been ahead 0-2, before Judge issued an eight-pitch walk. .
Judge has now made 31 plate appearances since hitting No. 60 against the Pirates a week ago. He has just two 30-plus plate streaks this season without a homer. August had a 41-plate drought and April had a 30-plate drought. It’s the second-longest game drought of the season for Judge, who went nine games without a homer this season. He has reached base safely in 15 of those 31 plate appearances with 13 walks.
And with a .314 batting average, Judge still holds a narrow lead over Xander Bogaerts (.313) and Luis Arraez (.313). He is looking to win his first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012. Judge’s 128 RBIs are 11 more than Jose Ramirez’s 117 for the AL most.
Judge has just three homers in 67 at-bats against the Blue Jays this season.
There’s a little less pressure on the judge here at the Rogers Center. With the Blue Jays trying to clinch a playoff spot, the number of Yankees fans who traveled here in hopes of seeing history is high. Back in the Bronx last week, Judge heard roars every time he went to the plate and the venue fell silent as each pitch was delivered. Fans groaned every time he didn’t hit a homer — including when he doubled. Monday nightthere were boos when he walked, but it was almost normal when he hit and Blue Jays fans went crazy.
The judge is lowering the intense spotlight on him.
“Well, there’s nothing like Yankee Stadium. That’s for sure,” Judge said. “I know the Rogers Center here is pretty loud and pretty packed, but nothing like Yankee Stadium. But it felt like a normal game. To me. It’s like the last two days.”