Two weeks ago, Aaron Judge headed into the All-Star break with 33 home runs, matching the first-half team record set in 1961 by Roger Maris.
Maris eventually hit 61 homers that season to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record.
Since the break, Judge’s pace has accelerated, and he attempts to homer in a fourth straight game Sunday when the Yankees host the Kansas City Royals.
Judge is on pace to hit 67 homers after getting his major league-leading 42nd homer, a two-run shot, in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Royals. He also became the second-fastest player to reach 200 home runs, achieving the milestone in his 671st career game — 13 behind Ryan Howard.
“I can’t imagine a person more equipped to go through something like that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of his slugger. “I know, at his core, what he’s about and that’s this team and us winning and nothing will get in the way of that.”
Judge has homered in three straight games for the eighth time in his MLB career, which began in 2016.
He also has 12 homers in his past 14 games, the most in a 14-game span in team history. During those games, he is hitting .426 (23-for-54) with 23 RBIs.
“It’s incredible,” New York hurler Nestor Cortes said. “Every night, I know everybody’s expecting a home run from him, I mean we are. So it’s good to be on his team and see that.”
Judge also has homered seven times in his past five games against the Royals.
In addition to slowing Judge, Kansas City will attempt to end a five-game losing streak. The Royals are 3-9 in their past 12 games.
During its skid, Kansas City has been outscored 30-7 while hitting .206 (34-for-165), including 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position.
On Saturday, the Royals made three costly errors. Rookie Maikel Garcia, Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez committed miscues leading to runs.
On Friday, Garcia’s eighth-inning error contributed to the Yankees’ eight-run outburst, which eventually resulted in a comeback 11-5 victory over the Royals.
Zack Greinke (3-6, 4.35 ERA) is scheduled to start for Kansas City on Sunday. Judge is 1-for-6 with one homer off Greinke, whose 222 career wins are second-most behind Justin Verlander among active pitchers.
Greinke has produced scoreless outings in two of his past three starts. On Monday, he allowed three hits in five innings of a no-decision in Kansas City’s 7-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The veteran right-hander is 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 17 career appearances (14 starts) against the Yankees. In seven career appearances in New York, Greinke is 0-3 with a 9.22 ERA.
New York’s Jordan Montgomery (3-3, 3.50 ERA) attempts to rebound from his shortest start this season. Montgomery last pitched Tuesday in a 5-3 loss to the host New York Mets and tied a season high by allowing five runs (four earned) and four hits in 2 1/3 innings while laboring through 71 pitches.
Montgomery is 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA over his past seven starts since getting a win in Toronto on June 17.
He is 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA in two career starts against the Royals. Both outings were in May 2017, when Montgomery was a rookie.
-Field Level Media