Aaron Judge aims to eclipse Roger Maris homerun mark as New York Yankees host Red Sox

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NEW York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) bats during the game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. — REUTERS

IN 1961, Roger Maris reached 33 homers before the All-Star break on his way to hitting 61 homers and breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record.

Sixty-one years later, Aaron Judge has matched the mark set by Maris and gets one more day to see if he can surpass him when the New York Yankees conclude the first half of the season by hosting the struggling Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.

Judge leads the major league home run race by five over Philadelphia slugger Kyle Schwarber after getting his seventh multi-homer game this season with a solo shot and matched Maris with a two-run drive in Saturday’s 14-1 win.

Since the All-Star game began in 1933, Judge is the sixth player in major league history with 30 homers in multiple seasons before the break. Judge also hit 30 of his 52 homers before the break in 2017 on his way to winning AL Rookie of the Year honors.

Judge will play in his 89th game, six more than Maris before the break in 1961.

Judge will make his first attempts at breaking the team record against Chris Sale (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Judge is 5-for-25 against Sale with one homer and 15 strikeouts.

New York is coming off one of its most lopsided wins of the season after dropping five of its previous six games for its first slump this season. The Yankees also cruised to the win by getting a pair of three-run homers and seven RBIs from Matt Carpenter after playing three straight extra-inning games and losing four times in the final at-bat.

The Red Sox head into the finale of an inconsistent first half with five losses in their last six games and still seek their first series win against an AL East opponent, whom they are 12-25 against.

The Red Sox are facing Cole (8-2, 3.05) for the third time this season after tagging him for eight runs and nine hits in their first 10 innings against the right-hander.

Sale is making his second start since returning from a broken rib. In his season debut, Sale pitched five scoreless innings and threw 78 pitches on Tuesday at Tampa Bay when his fastball averaged 95.1 mph and topped out at 96.9.

Sale is 6-8 with a 2.98 ERA in 21 career appearances (18 starts) against the Yankees. He last faced the Yankees Aug. 3, 2019, in New York, where he was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. — Reuters