New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was denied an opportunity to tie Roger Marris's American League record of 61 home runs during the top of the 10th inning of Monday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
With two on and two out, Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider replaced right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass with lefty Tim Mayza and opted to intentionally walk Judge to load the bases. That brought a chorus of boos from some fans in the stands, no doubt wishing to see history potentially being made.
Schneider's risky move paid off as Mayza was able to get Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo to ground out and end the top of the inning.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to bring home Cavan Biggio as the Blue Jays claimed a 3-2 victory over their division rivals.
"You have to respect what he’s doing," Schneider said after the game about Judge. "I said that before the game. With that comes a little bit of extra fanfare, so I think our guys handled it really, really well."
The intentional walk didn't come as a total surprise to Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
"Once we saw Mayza up, we figured he was getting ready for Rizzo there," Boone told reporters after the game. "...Then as soon as they went to the mound, we knew they were going to get Mayza to walk him. So yeah, we figured that."
It was the second walk of the game for Judge, who also had a pair of strikeouts and remains at a league-leading 60 homers on the season. Judge batted 1 for 3 Monday night hitting a leadoff single in the first inning and scoring the game's opening run.
“I don’t think I’ve been hitting lefties well all year, so you don’t know what analytics is going to say,” Judge told reporters. “Once they made the move, I kind of had a feeling.”
Schneider said the biggest decision for him was actually deciding whether to credit the intentional walk to Bass or Mayza. He opted to give it to Mayza, due to MLB's new three-batter minimum rule, in case he needed to bring another right-handed pitcher later in the game.
"Talking through that situation there with Judge coming up and knowing you’ve got Mayza available with two outs to face Rizzo, we liked that," Schneider said. "We liked that we had the top of the order coming up for us, thinking we’re going to score at least one."
The Blue Jays improved to an 87-67 record, and their magic number to clinch a berth in the post-season dropped to three.
Toronto hosts New York for the second game of the series Tuesday night. Watch live on Sportsnet or SN NOW starting at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.