62 and 700: Aaron Judge, Albert Pujols near home run milestones

Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols could make this week a home run milestone.

Judge hit two more pitches on Sunday, bringing his season total to 59, two shy of Roger Maris’ AL record. Now the slugger is back at Yankee Stadium, where New York will play its next six games. Meanwhile, Puyols seems unlikely to get close to the 700-homer mark after hitting 12 since early August.

The judge’s pursuit of Maris has fueled debate over how to put this AL record in context if he breaks it. He’s unlikely to threaten Barry Bonds’ 73-year-old major league record, but that record, along with Mark McGwell and Sammy Sousa’s performance at the same time, is complicated by drug suspicion.

No matter how many homers he hits, Judge could have outdone Bonds and Maris in one way. Now, he leads Kyle Schwaber, who is second in the majors with a staggering 20 home runs. No one has led at least 20 homers since Babe Ruth hit 54 in 1928, and no one else has more than 31.

Maris had a seven-shot lead of the majors with a 61, while Bonds had a nine-shot lead with a 73.

Judge is also involved in the AL Triple Crown — he leads in home runs and RBIs and is just one point behind hitter Luis Arales — but that won’t be resolved until the end of the season.

Puyols, 42, who will retire at the end of the season, is trying to become the fourth major league player to hit 700 home runs after Bonds, Henry Aaron and Ruth. Unlike Judge, he won’t be completing his milestone at home this week. St. Louis’ next eight games are on the road against the Padres, Dodgers and Brewers.

close it

Is there a chance the Padres won’t make the playoffs after completing the blockbuster trade for Juan Soto? San Diego currently holds the National League’s second wild card, but the Padres are just halfway ahead of Philadelphia and 2 1/2 ahead of Milwaukee.

San Diego is 24-20 with a .545 winning percentage since the start of August, up from 57-46 (.553). Soto has hit just .221 since joining the Padres.

San Diego did win the last three games of the series against Arizona, and Soto hit his first homer of the month on Sunday.

trivia time

Who was the last player to lead the majors in double digits in home runs?

one week line

Schwaber is second in the majors with 39 homers, while Houston’s Jordan Alvarez is second in the American League with 37. He homered in the first three batting games of the Astros’ 5-0 win over Oakland on Friday night.

Honorable Mention: In the same game, Justin Verlander came back from Houston’s injured list and pitched five no-hitters before being eliminated.

return this week

This week is actually a double dose.

Texas fell to Oakland 7-2 in the fifth inning Tuesday night before winning 8-7. Marc Mathias homered twice, including a one-shot hit in the ninth inning to win. According to baseball experts, the track team has a 94.8 percent chance of winning in the fifth inning.

The next night, the script was flipped. Oakland beat Texas 8-7 after the Rangers went 5-1 after four games. Texas’ winning odds peaked at 93.2%. The Athletics completed their comeback with a two-run run in the ninth inning, with a turnover from shortstop Corey Seager leading to a lead.

trivia answers

Jose Bautista hit 54 home runs in 2010, 12 ahead of Puyols.

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