TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season with a tiebreaking, two-run drive in the seventh inning that lifted the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 on Wednesday night.
The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza (8-1) over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.
Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.
The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.
Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.
Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.
Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.
Judge had gone seven games without a home run — his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.
The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.
Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.
The Yankees, who clinched their 20th AL East title in a night earlier, won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Gerit Cole (13-7) allowed three runs and three hits in 6.1 innings. Cole was perfect through five before Danny Jansen homered leading off the sixth. Cole struck out four, matching the Yankees season record of 248 set by Ron Guidry in 1978.
New York scored three in the first off Mitch White, but Toronto tied it in a three-run sixth that included Bo Bichette’s RBI single and Vladimir Guerrero’s sacrifice fly.