Through three games at Yankee Stadium, Boston Red Sox pitchers have yet to be on the wrong side of history.
In fact, the Red Sox’s contingent of arms haven’t only kept Aaron Judge stuck on 60 home runs — one shy of tying Roger Maris’ all-time American League record — they have kept the New York Yankees slugger at bay.
With history on the line, Judge, who has come close to the record-tying round-tripper, is just 1-for-9 in the series with no extra-base hits, four walks and five strikeouts. In New York’s 7-5 win Saturday, Judge went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk.
“I think we’ve been pitching him well the whole season,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “If you look back, a 3-2 slider by Nick, he hit a home run. I think it was here right before the All-Star Game. I think overall we’ve done a good job throughout the season. … Like I said when we got here, the game will dictate what we do, and I think overall we have done an outstanding job.”
As Cora reiterated, the Red Sox aren’t looking to shy away from Judge even though his historic blast could come at their expense.
Red Sox pitchers have been in attack mode when facing the 30-year-old right field, and no one embodied that more than starting pitcher Nick Pivetta on Saturday. The right-hander started the bottom of the first by throwing Judge three straight fastballs and sat him down looking with a 93 mph heater that hugged the inside corner.
For Pivetta, going after Judge with fastballs was a strategic move.
“I’m always going to challenge Judge. I’m always going to challenge all those guys,” Pivetta told reporters after tossing five innings allowing five runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking four, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “Simple as he’s hit curveball home runs, slider home runs, so he hasn’t hit a home run off my fastball. So, just challenge him all the way and see how it goes.”
Judge, who also struck out in the bottom of the seventh against Red Sox reliever John Schreiber, has been swinging and missing a good amount in the series. Red Sox veteran lefty Rich Hill even punched him out twice on Friday night.
The pressure of the moment might be getting to Judge a little bit, especially in front of the home crowd that stands in unison for all of his at-bats. Judge will have another chance at making those at Yankee Stadium happy in the series finale against the Red Sox coming Sunday night.
And now it will be up to rookie Brayan Bello to do what the other Red Sox pitchers have done before him and keep Judge’s current home run total right where it is.