TORONTO — The waiting is the hardest part.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. lined a walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the 10th to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 win over the Yankees at Rogers Centre Monday night. Toronto also held Aaron Judge homerless. The division-winning celebration and history will have to wait another day.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Yankees (94-59) and delayed what the team hope is inevitable. The Bombers came into the game with a magic number of two, meaning they need one win in this three-game series to clinch the American League East and the No. 2 seed in the American League playoffs. The Blue Jays (87-67) dropped their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to three.
For the sixth straight game, Judge did not hit a home run. He remains at 60 for the regular season and one shy of the American League single-season and Yankee franchise record set by Roger Maris in 1961.
Monday was a little different than the last five.
Every time he came to bat over the last five nights, the sold-out crowd at the Stadium rose and held up their phones, hoping to record history. There was an eerie quiet of expectation as each pitch was thrown and then — even for doubles — a groan of disappointment. His family has been in the ballpark since the team returned from a road trip to Milwaukee on Tuesday night and Maris’ family has also been there to wait and congratulate Judge if he breaks their father’s record.
It’s been a lot, but Judge has continued to downplay it.
“I’ve played in New York for six years now, this is par for the course, especially the playoff games we’ve had, opening days are hectic,” Judge said. “It’s just another game to me.”
Monday there were cheers and some boos for the one walk, but the Blue Jays are playing for a postseason spot, so their fans, most of the 34,307, were thrilled to see Judge held within the ballpark.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit his fourth home run of the season in the second inning. The 404-foot shot to left-center field was the 10th home run the Yankees hit since Judge hit his last homer Tuesday night. It also gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
But in the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees shortstop helped give it right back. With Bo Bichette on first, he let a Guerrero Jr. hard-hit ground ball eat him up, bouncing off his wrist and losing it. The Blue Jays official scorer ruled it a hit because it was 111 miles per hour off the bat.
Luis Severino walked Alejandro Kirk and then Teoscar Hernandez hit one off the center field wall. While he admired that, Judge fired the rebound to Kiner-Falefa. Hernandez got a late start out of the box after a slow walk and bat flip and the Yankees had a chance to get him at second base, but the shortstop fired home but could not beat the second runner.
Severino was charged with those two runs.
The lefty allowed two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out four over four innings.
Judge is 5-for-18 with eight walks since his last home run.
In the first inning, Judge saw four pitches, lining a single into right field. He ended up scoring the Yankees’ first run on Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly. In his second at-bat, Judge got ahead in the count 2-0, before fouling off an 83-mile an hour slider. He swung over an 82-mph splitter and then worked a six-pitch walk. He was forced out at second on Anthony Rizzo’s ground ball to second for a double play. In the sixth inning, Judge battled back from 0-1, but Kevin Gausman caught Judge looking on an 85-mph slider that was low.
Manager Aaron Boone started his usual battle with the home plate umpire about the low strike to the 6-7 Judge, yelling “it was low, it was low, it was low.”
In the eighth, Yimi Garcia fell behind Judge 3-1, but got him to strike out swinging on a 91-mph slider that was low and away.
In the top of the 10th, the Blue Jays intentionally walked Judge to load the bases with two outs. The Blue Jays brought in lefty Tim Mayza to face Rizzo. It worked as Mayza got Rizzo to ground out to eliminate the threat.
Judge made a terrific running catch of Bichette’s fly ball in the bottom of the 10th to keep the game alive.
Batting .314 with his major league leading 60 homers and his 128 RBI, Judge is in the lead to win the first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera achieved the milestone in 2012.