Aaron Judge walked four times and stayed at 60 homers, one shy of Roger Maris’ American League record, as the New York Yankees clinched the AL East title by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5 -2 Tuesday evening.
The Yankees celebrated their 20th division championship, tied for second with the Dodgers behind Atlanta’s 21, but not home run history. New York (95-59) earned a first-round bye and home-court advantage in the Division Series.
Judge lined up in his first at bat, then walked four straight in his seventh straight game without a home run. The Yankees have eight games left in the regular season for Judge to tie or break the AL mark set by Maris in 1961.
Despite the loss, Toronto (87-68) maintained its place at the top of the AL Wildcards standings.
Elsewhere, Paul Goldschmidt and St Louis clinched the NL Central title by beating Milwaukee after six solid innings from Miles Mikolas. Andrew Knizner hit a two-run homer and Goldschmidt added two RBIs as St Louis sealed its Premier League crown since 2019 and fourth straight playoff berth by defeating the team that won the NL Central Championship l last year.
The Cardinals (90-65) have guaranteed themselves at least a tie with second place Milwaukee (82-72), and they now own the tiebreaker as Tuesday’s win gave St Louis an insurmountable 10- 8 in the season series.
The Brewers remain 1.5 games behind Philadelphia for the NL’s final wild card. The Phillies won the season series with Milwaukee and would get the playoff offer if the two teams were tied.
Meanwhile, history was made in New York on Monday night. Miami Marlins pitcher Richard Bleier has become the first player since 1900 to balk three times in the same batting game. Kickback is an illegal move by a pitcher—often a flinch—that drives every runner forward on base. In Monday’s game against the Mets, Bleier was called for a three-time disallowance while Pete Alonso was at bat in the eighth inning. Penalties allowed Jeff McNeil, who started first at bat, to advance around base and score. It made little difference to the result of the game, which the Marlins won 6-4.
Bleier said after the match that he felt he was judged unfairly.
“It’s the same move I’ve been doing for 300 rounds, and here we are,” Bleier said. “Maybe I was reluctant. I watched the video. I totally disagree, but I’m biased, so I don’t know.
The Mets’ loss tied them for first place in Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador with the Atlanta Braves. The teams face off this weekend in a series that will likely decide the division winner. MLS is expected to develop contingency plans if Hurricane Ian disrupts the series, which could infringe on the playoff schedule.