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Aaron Judge stays at 61 homers as Yankees fall to Orioles

The full house at Yankee Stadium didn’t get to see the historic Aaron Judge home run that they came for Friday night. Instead, the Bombers revealed the weakness that might cost them a long postseason run. The Orioles beat the Yankees 2-1 at the Stadium Friday night.

Aaron Judge, who tied the 61 year old American League and Yankee single-season home run record on Wednesday night, went 1-for-2 with a single and two walks as he remained stuck on 61 and tied with Yankee great Roger Maris.

But Friday night as the Yankees lost for the second time in their last 11 games, there was a big red flag with the Bombers bullpen. Zack Britton, who was hoping to be an option for the Yankees in the playoffs, left the game in the middle of an at-bat with what the Yankees said is “left arm fatigue.” And after the game, Aaron Boone confirmed he did not have Clay Holmes, because is dealing with a strain in his shoulder. Holmes later said it was in his rotator cuff. Holmes is shut down from throwing for “about a week,” and will not be available until the Yankees’ division series.

“I mean, it is what it is. We’re trying to get them all healthy and ready and as good options. We still feel like we have really good options down there. So there’s no use crying about what you do or don’t have, you got to make the most of what you do have,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.  “And the reality is we still have a lot of really talented guys down there. And like Clay for example. I do feel like it’s gonna be right back in that mix too.”

Holmes said he felt it when he pitched a clean inning Monday night, but didn’t think he could pitch another effective inning. He had an MRI and a cortisone shot on Thursday.

“I am very optimistic,” Holmes said of being back for the Division Series. “I said something when I needed to become something major. So that’s the plan right now to be ready for the Division Series. We’re kind of working backwards from there.”

The Yankees are using these last six games as a chance to evaluate their options. That is why Britton was out there making his third appearance since Tommy John surgery. The Yankees said the surgically-repaired elbow was fine, but they would see how he was on Saturday.

They are also looking to see if DJ LeMahieu can contribute. He off the injured list Friday night and went 0-for-3 before being pulled in the eighth in his first game since Sept. 4. He has been playing through painful inflammation in his right big/second toe area since before the All-Star break, when he had a cortisone shot to try and get some relief. Lately, the Yankees have been talking about ways to limit the pain, including shots.

These last few games of the season will be a test for LeMahieu, who admitted the other day he will be “useless,” to the Yankees if he can’t get good swings off. The torque on the toe during swings has been a particularly tough issue for him. So, he will see if he can contribute enough to be on the playoff roster. LeMahieu admitted the injury has affected him, hurting him as he tries to push off on his swing.

“I mean, more than anything, because he hasn’t had a lot of live at-bats, obviously. He just started hitting off the machines, and wasn’t really grinding on at-bats,” Boone said. “So today. was the first day really getting after it and seeing live pitching. So more than anything. I want to see how he responds, how does he feel tomorrow? Those kinds of things.”

The Yankees also got a look at Chapman, who was their closer until losing their confidence this season, Friday night, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

“He didn’t have his great fastball,  he came in and fell behind and was still able to navigate back into the count and made some pitches,” Boone said. “You know, obviously he had a pickoff there. So yeah, I mean, on a night when he didn’t necessarily have his really good stuff, he was still able to be able to navigate and that’s important.”

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