NEW YORK — Aaron Judge enters a four-game series vs. the Red Sox on Thursday with 60 homers, one away from tying Roger Maris for the Yankees’ single-season record.
Manager Alex Cora said the Red Sox will go right at Judge. They aren’t looking to pitch around him.
Sixty-two homers would set an MLB non-Steroid Era single-season record.
“At one point he’s going to hit it so we’re going to attack him the same way we’ve done the whole season,” Cora said. “It’s interesting because obviously we talk about analytics. People love analytics and all this stuff, right? For so long, I’ve been hearing that intentional walks are going against the numbers.”
Cora pointed out how Judge belted two solo home runs when the Red Sox pitched aggressively against him Sept. 13 at Fenway Park. But the Yankees actually did more damage when Boston intentionally walked him in the 10th inning.
“When we walked him, they scored three (runs),” Cora said. “So we’ll see. We respect him. He’s been amazing for the game. Since day one, he’s been locked in.”
Michael Wacha will start for the Red Sox on Thursday. Judge is 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts and one walk against Wacha.
“We’ll attack them and then the game will dictate what we do,” Cora said. “I know probably if we walk him, I’ll get booed here. It’s not going to be the first time. It’s not going to be the last time, hopefully. But we’ll go and see what happens.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton had reliever Eric Stout pitch carefully around Judge and walk him on four pitches Wednesday despite the Yankees leading 11-2 in the eighth. Yankees fans booed Shelton.
“We preach (to) attack the zone,” Cora said. “Obviously the guy on the mound, he has a job to do. We talk about it a little bit today. Yeah, we’re in this stage and we know what’s going on. At the same time, intentional walks and pitching around people move the line. And Gleyber (Torres) is one of the hottest hitters in the big leagues right now. And (Anthony) Rizzo is back and he can shoot the ball to right field. It’s not as easy as people think. And we’re trying to win games. We know where we are at. It’s still Yankees-Red Sox and you come here — I didn’t come here for vacation over the weekend. … I’m not at the palace just to hang out. I’m here to put these guys in situations to be successful and we’re going to go about it the way we always do.”
Cora has been impressed with Judge’s timing and swing decisions. He called the slugger’s swing decisions “elite.”
“There’s certain counts he has taken advantage of,” Cora said. “That 1-0 count has been great for him II’s good for people to watch and see how he’s doing it in the batter’s box. Because we can talk about launch angle and exit velocity and this and that, but at the end, it’s how it starts. And he starts early. He gives himself a lot of time to make decisions. And he’s been on point.”