NEW YORK — — It’s only been a few days since Aaron Judge dug deep. He just feels like more, with the story hanging on every one of his punches.
Judge went without a home run for the third straight game, keeping him at 60 for the season and one shy of Roger Maris’ American League record, but the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Friday. .
“He’s coming off the right swings. He’s making good swing decisions. It’s going to come,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But it’s a glimpse behind what a great player he is, that when he doesn’t get the ball out of the ballpark, he’s still impacting us in a big way.”
José Treviño singled the tiebreaking run with two outs in the eighth inning, and the first-place Yankees cut their magic number to four to clinch the AL East title. He has won five games in a row and nine of 11.
With four of Maris’s sons in the ballpark again, Judge went 1-for-4 with a strong single. He struck out twice and threw a fly ball to left field that thrilled the 47,346 crowd who packed the stadium for a second or two.
Since hitting for No. 60 on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, the closest Judge has come to matching Maris’ mark in 1961 was a 404-foot drive caught just in front of the center-field fence on Thursday.
“He’s missed two in the last two nights,” Boone said.
The slugger has two games left to catch Maris in New York’s current homestand: Saturday afternoon and Sunday night against the rival Red Sox. After that, the Yankees head to Toronto with just three home games left: Sept. 30-Oct. 2 against Baltimore.
One night after the Yankees clinched their sixth straight playoff berth, Boone and ace Gerrit Cole were ejected in a sixth-inning brawl with home plate umpire Brian Knight.
Pinch hitter Harrison Bader walked with two out in the eighth and was credited with a stolen base when an interception attempt by Matt Strahm (3-4) allowed him to reach third.
Treviño singled to center field on the next pitch.
Jonathan Loaisiga (2-3) pitched two shutout innings, giving up a pair of one-out singles in the ninth.
Alex Verdugo tied it for Boston with a three-run homer in the sixth. Tommy Pham also went deep against Cole, who has served 31 long balls this season, the most in the American League.
Verdugo sent a 100 mph fastball into the Yankees’ bullpen to right-center, a pitch after Cole thought he had a late-inning strikeout. The right-hander lowered his head and leaned behind the mound as Verdugo jogged slowly down the bases.
After the inning, Cole angrily pointed at Knight and was ejected for the first time in his career, though the five-time All-Star probably finished for the night anyway after 103 pitches.
“It wasn’t even close,” Verdugo said. “He wants to steal every pitch. He wants the recipient of his to steal it from him.”
Boone joined the discussion and was fired for the 24th time as manager, and the highest seventh time of his career this season.
“The damage there late is personally hard to swallow,” Cole said. “I think we made some good strides today and I thought overall I shot the ball well. It’s obviously just an emotional moment.”
Batting off Judge, No. 9 hitter Aaron Hicks hit his 100th major league home run and added an RBI single. Gleyber Torres gave New York a 4-1 lead with a two-run double off starter Rich Hill in the fifth.
The 42-year-old Hill retired Judge all three times they met, including two strikeouts.
“Obviously there’s history on the line and he’s having an amazing season,” Hill said. “From a pitching standpoint and a competitive standpoint, you want to face the best and you want to challenge the best.”
Judge singled hard in the seventh and reached base safely in a season-high 22 straight games.
“Obviously, with all the noise around it and the excitement around it, understandably, he keeps going out there and putting together good at-bats after good at-bats,” Boone said.
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (shoulder inflammation) allowed three runs in three innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Worcester, throwing 57 pitches. He has been sidelined since Aug. 19, but hopes to return before the season ends. … All-Star SS Xander Bogaerts rested. He is hitting .314 and started the night second in the AL to Judge (who dropped a point to .315). Bogaerts could be the biggest obstacle standing between the Yankees slugger and a Triple Crown. … INF Christian Arroyo rejoined the team after a bout with the flu.
Yankees: 1B Anthony Rizzo rested. … INF DJ LeMahieu (toe swelling) has been batting practice and it’s possible he could come off the disabled list next week in Toronto.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Red Sox RHP Nick Pivetta (10-11, 4.35 ERA) starts Saturday against Domingo Germán (2-3, 3.12), who has pitched just 2 2/3 innings since Sept. 7.
Judge is 5-for-11 (.455) in his career against Pivetta with two home runs, both this season (No. 32 on July 16 and No. 56 on Sept. 13). Pivetta has an 8.78 ERA in seven career starts against New York and is 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in three starts at Yankee Stadium.