The Aaron Judge home run watch will continue Monday night when the New York Yankees visit the Toronto Blue Jays to open a three-game series.
Judge remained at 60 home runs after the Yankees defeated the visiting Boston Red Sox 2-0 Sunday night in a game shortened to six innings by rain. Judge went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk.
He is in pursuit of the American League home run record of 61 set by former Yankee Roger Maris in 1961.
The Yankees (94-58) have already clinched a postseason berth but could clinch first place in the American League East against the Blue Jays (86-67). They lead the Blue Jays by 8 1/2 games.
The Yankees are scheduled to start right-hander Luis Severino (6-3, 3.36 ERA) on Monday. Severino is 6-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 17 career games (14 starts) against the Blue Jays.
It would be Severino’s second start since a two-month stint on the injured list (right lat strain) following a five-inning, one-run start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
Severino does not look at his outing as an audition for a place on the postseason rotation.
“I don’t really think that I’m here to try out for the postseason,” Severino said before the game on Sunday. “I’ve been here long enough and they know what I can do when I am healthy. We have a lot of good guys here, but they can’t pitch every day. They need other guys to pitch and I am excited to do that.”
Toronto is expected to start right-hander Kevin Gausman (12-10, 3.32 ERA) on Monday. He is 8-7 with a 3.53 ERA, in 26 career games (20 starts) against the Yankees.
The Blue Jays solidified their spot in the first wild-card position with a 7-1 road victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday to gain a split of the four-game series.
The Blue Jays are two games ahead of the Rays and 2 1/2 games in front of the Seattle Mariners, who occupy the third wild-card spot. The Mariners and Rays hold the tiebreaker with the Blue Jays because they each hold the advantage in their season series against them.
Toronto had two home runs and three RBIs Sunday from George Springer, a proven postseason performer. Both home runs came against Rays No. 1 starter Shane McClanahan.
“He’s just so clutch,” winning pitcher Ross Stripling said after the game on Sunday “You go through his whole career, and September and October is just when he turns it on.”
“He’s been through it,” Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said. “He’s been through the biggest moments the game has to offer. … He’s the definition of a gamer when it gets to this part of the year.”
Springer is playing with inflammation in his right elbow and sometimes is used as the designated hitter. When he starts in center field, he often is replaced defensively in the final inning or two. Bradley Zimmer played center in the bottom of the ninth Sunday.
“I’m just trying to slow things down and be consistent,” Springer said. “Obviously, I’d love to be better with guys on base, but it is what it is. I want to slow things down, not try to do too much and get to first for the other guys behind me.”