Aaron Judge belts 50th HR to break rookie record

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In today's baseball game, the New York Yankees took control in the first inning with a 1-0 lead, continued to add to it, and never trailed.

Aaron Judge's size 17 spikes weren't always digging into the storied grounds of Yankee Stadium, but it was that very advice that he received from-then Trenton Thunder hitting coach P.J. Pilittere back when he was honing his craft at Arm & Hammer Park in 2015 that helped him get there. "You got to go out there, '" he would later recall.

"I think developing, especially in Double-A, it felt like in that league there were a lot of good prospects", he said. Judge surpassed the previous mark set by Mark McGwire as a rookie with the Oakland Athletics back in 1987. Mercifully, Judge made a decision to get the 50th out of the way this afternoon after tying McGwire's record four innings earlier, sparing us disingenuous suspense about surpassing Big Mac.

But Judge's 50th homer of the year in the seventh was immediately followed by Gary Sanchez's 33rd homer of the year.

One thing is for certain; Aaron Judge is the new leader for home runs in a season by a rookie. It also earned him emphatic endorsement for the American League MVP award from CC Sabathia.

It was his fourth multi-homer game in the last 14 contests and seventh of the season.

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Before the game, Girardi said reaching No. 50 would be a "great accomplishment". After going 2-4 on Monday with both hits being home runs, Judge has put himself in conversation with elite company. Meaning the Yanks will in all likelihood have a date with the Twins in the Wild Card Game next Tuesday, Oct. 3. None have hit 50 homers as a rookie.

Also pitching in for the Yankees' win was shortstop Didi Gregorius. He lost for the first time since June 29, giving up six runs, seven hits and striking out four in five-plus innings of work.

A second-half slump took the wind out of Judge's sails; he hit just.185/.353/.326 with three homers and 41 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances in August.

Not bad work from Joe Girardi's big, goofy boy.

Yankees: OF Aaron Hicks (oblique) had six at-bats in a simulated game at New York's minor league complex.

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