1 of 5 | New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hits his 62nd home run of the season in the first inning against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Matt Pearce/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Aaron Judge needed just one at-bat in his 157th game to set the American League's new single-season home run record, as the slugger led off a New York Yankees game against the Texas Rangers with longball No. 62 of 2022.
Judge crushed the 1-1 slider in the first at-bat of the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The Yankees beat the Rangers 5-4 earlier in the day.
"I was frustrated because I wasn't helping the team out," Judge told reporters. "I had a couple bad at-bats, swinging at some bad pitches and missing my pitch.
"As the leadoff guy I gotta get on base. I hadn't been doing that. ... I thought, this is a good pitcher, let's see what happens. I was able to get one over the heart of the plate and put a good swing on it."
Judge went 1 for 2 with an RBI, a walk, a strikeout and a run scored. He is now hitting .311 with an MLB-best 131 RBIs, in addition to his record home run total. Judge's 62 homers trail only Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998; 65 in 1999) and Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998; 64 in 2001; 63 in 1999).
Maris set the previous American League record with 61 in 1961.
Judge entered Tuesday's finale with just one homer over his last 13 games. He tied Maris' record in a Sept. 28 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees outfielder settled in against Rangers starter Jesus Tinoco to start Tuesday's nightcap. Judge took a high fastball for a ball to start the exchange. He then watched a slider find the zone for a strike.
Tinoco then issued an 88.4 mph slider to almost the same location as his previous pitch.
Judge lowered his bat off his shoulder, swung it through the zone and raked it toward the left corner of the ballpark. The ball traveled 100 mph off his bat and hovered 108 feet above the field, according to Statcast. It then dropped out of the sky and landed just above the outfield fence.
Rangers designated hitter Adolis Garcia tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the same inning. Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton belted a 420-foot solo homer to left center for a 2-1 edge in the top of the fifth.
Rangers center fielder Leody Taveras hit a 428-foot, two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth for the final runs of the game.
The Yankees (99-62) will face the Rangers (67-94) in their final regular-season game at 4:05 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Arlington. Judge needs one home run to tie Sosa for the sixth-most home runs ever hit in a single season. He could tie Sosa for fifth with two longballs in the season finale.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hits his 62nd home run of the season in the first inning, breaking the American League record and the record held by Roger Maris during game 2 of a double header against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on October 4, 2022. Photo by Matt Pearce/UPI | License Photo