Aaron Judge DHing for Yankees as home run chase continues

TORONTO — Bill Belichick would approve of the Yankees’ handling of Aaron Judge: no days off.

A night after clinching the AL East, Judge was right back in the starting lineup Wednesday against the Blue Jays — albeit at designated hitter instead of the outfield — his 49th straight start as he continued his pursuit of tying Roger Maris’ American League and franchise record 61 home runs.

Judge had said on Sunday night that he was going to keep playing until the Yankees clinched the division, which they did on Tuesday with a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays.

A day off on Wednesday could have made sense, since manager Aaron Boone has tended to give Judge a day off on either side of a team day off – which the Yankees have on Thursday – to give him extra rest before getting back to chasing history on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

Judge’s last off day came on Aug. 3 against the Mariners. Wednesday marked his 147th start in the Yankees’ 155th game of the season.

Aaron Judge after scoring a run against the Blue Jays on Sept. 27, 2022.

Aaron Judge celebrates the Yankees winning the AL East on Sept. 27, 2022.
Aaron Judge celebrates the Yankees winning the AL East on Sept. 27, 2022.

While the Yankees figure to give their starters some rest over the final eight games of the season, now that they are all but locked into the No. 2 seed in the American League, Judge may be the exception – at least for now.

After hitting his 60th home run last Tuesday, Judge had not homered in 31 straight plate appearances (spanning seven games), his second-longest “drought” of the season. He has still been productive at the plate, going 5-for-19 with 12 walks – four of which came in Tuesday’s clincher.