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Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

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By Stephen Hawkins in Arlington

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Aaron Judge took a smooth, mighty swing, then broke into a big smile as he trotted around the bases. Heading home, his teammates backed away, letting him touch the plate alone.

At last, the New York Yankees slugger had the American League home run record all to himself.

Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ AL record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

“It’s a big relief,” Judge said. “Everybody can finally sit down in their seats and watch the ballgame. It’s been a fun ride so far, getting a chance to do this. … Getting a chance to have your name next to someone as great as Roger Maris and Babe Ruth and those guys is incredible.”

Judge said he felt “quite a few emotions” after connecting, thinking about his family and fans and supporters. He said it would probably be after the season until he’d truly soak in and appreciate the significance of his achievement.

“In my book, it’s just another day,” the stoic Judge said.

After slamming his helmet in a rare show of frustration when he went without a homer in the first game of the doubleheader against the Rangers in Texas, Judge hit the third pitch of the nightcap into the first row of seats in left field.

That trip around the bases after a long chase was certainly a mixture of pure joy and relief for No. 99, whose only homer in the previous 13 games had been when he tied Maris’ 61 last Wednesday in Toronto.

Judge did it just in time, too, homering on the next-to-last day of the regular season.

Barry Bonds holds the major league record of 73 home runs, set with the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge’s milestone ball was caught by Cory Youmans of Dallas, who was sitting in Section 31. When asked what he was going to do with the ball while being taken away with security to have the ball authenticated, Youmans responded, “Good question. I haven’t thought about it.”

Asked after the 3-2 loss if he’d gotten the ball, Judge said, “not yet.”

“I don’t know where it’s at. It’d be great to get it back,” he said.

Judge also praised the fan for making a “great catch” and said the man had every right to keep the prized souvenir.

Another fan was escorted away after leaping over the rail into a gap between the seats and the left-field wall. The crowd of 38,832 was Texas’ third sellout of the season.

Almost as soon as Judge connected on a 1-1 slider from right-hander Jesús Tinoco, his Yankees teammates streamed out of the dugout to celebrate with him. But they stayed away from home plate — leaving him to step on it before sharing hugs and high-fives.

“You never know how you’re going to react in the moment. And it was just so, so very cool,” manager Aaron Boone said.

Gerrit Cole, who set a Yankees single-season strikeout record in the same game, said he didn’t know if Judge was pressing as of late, but chuckled when saying everybody else on the team was.

“Just wanted it to happen so bad,” Cole said. “So I don’t know if that’s pressing, or it’s just hoping hard. We were all just hoping really hard I think … He’s not trying to get the record for himself. He’s trying to get the record for his teammates, and for the Yankee fans.”

New York wound up losing the second game after winning the opener 5-4. With one game left in the regular season, the split left the Yankees with a fitting 99-62 record — Judge’s number and his home run total.

Judge’s mother and father were in the stands to see the 30-year-old outfielder end a five-game homerless streak, including the earlier game Tuesday when he was 1 for 5 with a single.

The Maris family wasn’t in Texas after following Judge around for a while, but Roger Maris Jr. tweeted, “Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron’s historic home run number 62! It has definitely been a baseball season to remember. You are all class and someone who should be revered. For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!”

When the top of the first ended, and Judge went to take his place in right field, he carried the glove and cap of first baseman DJ LeMahieu, who patted him on the back.

The fans in right field cheered Judge loudly while he warmed up by tossing a ball back and forth with center fielder Harrison Bader. Judge then provided another souvenir ball when he tossing the one he had warmed up with several rows deep.

Judge, eligible to become a free agent after this season, struck out on a full-count pitch when batting again in the second.

He took his spot right field in the bottom of the inning before Boone pulled him from the game. Oswaldo Cabrera, who had been at second base, moved to right field and the slugger got another loud ovation as he jogged back to the Yankees dugout on the third base side.

Reaction quickly came from far beyond the ballpark.

“History made, more history to make,” President Joe Biden posted on Twitter.

Tweeted former Yankees star Derek Jeter: “Congrats @TheJudge44 on 62! Postseason next!!!”

Former President Bill Clinton also tweeted congratulations, as did former MLB players like Paul O’Neill, Dwight Gooden, Dave Winfield and Ryan Howard.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Along with Bonds’ record, Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 for the Chicago Cubs during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans — perhaps many — until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row Judge had played since Aug. 5.

Boone initially said Judge earned himself a day off Wednesday, but then said he would speak with the slugger who had already said he hoped to play in the regular season finale, before the AL East champion Yankees have five days until the AL Division Series.

“We’ll have a conversation and see what makes the most sense,” Boone said. “And I’ll try and lead him in a certain direction, maybe he’ll lead me back in the other direction.”

Judge had gone 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge likely will come up short of becoming the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and goes into the final day of the regular season trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315. Judge was at .311, right where he had started the day.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Canada ends scoring drought at men’s World Cup but can’t hold off Croatia

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Umm Şalāl ‘Alī – Canada wasted little time Sunday ending its scoring drought at the men’s World Cup via Alphonso Davies but could not hold off Croatia, losing 4-1 to end its hopes of reaching the tournament’s knockout round.

Ranked 12th in the world and runner-up to France four years ago in Russia, Croatia is filled with talent from top clubs and its class showed in rallying from an early 1-0 deficit.

Two goals by Andrej Kramaric and one by Marko Livaja accounted for the Croatian comeback. Lovro Majer added a stoppage-time goal in the 94th minute on a two-on-none attack.

The 41st-ranked Canadians started with a bang with a Milan Borjan goal kick finding Cyle Larin at midfield. Larin controlled the ball deftly with his foot and sent it over to Tajon Buchanan down the right flank. Buchanan surged ahead, took two touches, lifted his head and sent in a cross that Davies, soaring through the air high above fullback Josip Juranovic, headed home past goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

The Canadians came into the contest — the first-ever meeting between the two countries — needing at least a point to keep alive their hope of advancing out of the group stage with coach John Herdman calling it “one of those do-or-die games.”

Croatia also needed a result after tying Morocco 0-0 in its opener.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2022

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Canada beats Australia to claim its first Davis Cup tennis championship

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MALAGA, Spain (AP) — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time on Sunday, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss Saturday in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court Sunday, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and on Saturday he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today — well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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