NEW YORK — The interview room at Yankee Stadium is decorated with large posters of magazine covers celebrating the franchise’s history.
One of them features the smiling duo of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris on the cover of Life in 1961.
“Will Yank Sluggers Smash 60 Homers?” reads the headline.
It’s an image Aaron Judge can’t help but see every time he takes a seat at the table at the head of the room. Maris smashed 61 homers in ‘61, an American League record that has stood the test of time.
It will last at least another day. Judge was 0 for 3 with a walk Saturday in a 7-5 victory against the Red Sox.
He has remained at 60 home runs for what is now four games and 13 at-bats.
Judge is 1 for 9 with three walks and five strikeouts in three games against the Sox. He hasn’t scored or driven in a run, but the Yankees have taken the first three games of the series.
That nine other players have homered and the best Judge has done is send a fly ball to the warning track on Thursday night wasn’t expected.
In ‘61, Maris started losing his hair as he tried to break Babe Ruth’s record. Judge is working good at-bats (4.7 pitches per plate appearance) and waiting his turn.
The Sox have won the battle against Judge and lost the war against the Yankees.
“I think we’ve been pitching him well the whole season,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “They’ve got a good team. It’s not only him. They’re getting healthy, which is important to them.”
A good example of that came in the seventh inning. In a 5-5 game, John Schreiber walked pinch hitter Aaron Hicks. Schreiber then fell behind Judge before coming back to strike him out swinging with a fastball on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.
Two pitches later Schreiber left a changeup up and over the plate that Anthony Rizzo hit 434 feet for a two-run homer to put the Yankees ahead.
At 108.4 miles per hour, it was the hardest-hit ball Schreiber has allowed this season.
The Sox left two runners on base in the eighth inning and threatened again in the ninth when Rafael Devers led off with a single and Xander Bogaerts was hit by a pitch.
Cora heard fans in right field cheering for the Red Sox to tie the game so Judge would get another at-bat in the ninth.
“It was a bunch of Yankees fans. They were all wearing their jerseys,” Cora said. “There was a guy right next to me saying, ‘Let’s go, Alex! Let’s score two!’ ”
With two outs, uncommonly disciplined rookie first baseman Triston Casas worked a seven-pitch walk off Scott Effross to load the bases. But Bobby Dalbec bounced into a force at second base.
Leave it to the last-place Sox to disappoint two fan bases by failing to score. They were 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position, leaving them 5 of 33 (.152) in the series.
“Yankees hit three non-Judge homers in win over Red Sox,” said a headline on the New York Post website a few minutes later.
Judge, who wasn’t available to reporters after the game, still has 11 games left to catch and pass Maris.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone is eager to give a Judge a day off but doesn’t want to stand in the way of history. The compromise is that Judge could serve as the designated hitter on Sunday night.
The Sox are planning to start 23-year-old rookie Brayan Bello in what would be his first appearance at Yankee Stadium.
Like the six other Sox pitchers who have faced Judge in this series, Bello would prefer to stay off a highlight video that will be shown endlessly.
But at this point, the beleaguered Sox would happily trade a record-tying homer for a victory.