Aaron Judge hit a wall.
Coming into last night’s game three of the American League Championship Series, Judge had been in a horrendous, post season slump. The Yankee rookie was 0 for 7 with 0 home runs and 0 RBI’s in the first two games of the ALCS and 3 for 31 overall in the post season, but it wasn’t a hit with his bat that helped him get going last night. It was a “hit” with his glove.
Judge “hit” the right field wall with his glove and shoulder as he leaped to rob Astros’ designated hitter Yuri Gurriel of an extra base hit in the fourth. That jolt may have turned Judge’s post season around. In the bottom half of the inning, the 25-year old broke out with a laser like, three run homer into the left field seats off losing pitcher Charlie Morton as the Yankees broke out their “Bronx Bomber” costumes to pound the Astros 8-1 in game 3 of the ALCS.
Todd Frazier got the ball rolling in the second when he literally poked a three run homer into the short, right field porch at this current Yankee Stadium. “It was just one of those things where it hit,” Frazier said after the game, “and you don’t think it’s going, just because how unorthodox the swing was.” The Yankees are hoping “the swing” is a little more conventional, like in changing the momentum in this series.
Gurriel led off the fourth and lined a ball to deep right field that took a similar path to the home run that Carlos Correa hit in game two in Houston. On that play, Judge ran over and could not corral the ball as it appeared his unfamiliarity with Minute Maid Park may have affected his ability to make the catch. This time, in familiar territory, Judge ran over and left the ground to snag the ball. By the way, he made the catch right in front of a “Play Station” ad whose slogan was “greatness awaits.”
In the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees staged a two out rally and Judge came to the plate with two on against Houston starter and loser Charlie Morton. On a 1-1 pitch, Judge smoked a line drive that sailed into the lower left field seats for a three run shot and a very comfortable 8-0 lead. Judge knew Morton threw a cutter so he was hoping that he’d miss his spot and get something he could handle. “Just try to get a pitch up and do some damage.”
In game 3 of the ALDS, Judge made a great catch at the right field wall to rob Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor of a home run and the Yankees went on to win that game 1-0 to start their comeback. Maybe there is a symmetry here.
The Yankees even cleared the “zero hits from the DH spot in the lineup” when Chase Headley “drove” a huge, two out infield single through the middle to score Greg Bird, who had led off the fourth with a double, and make it a 4-0 lead. “Nice to get that one out of the way and hopefully keep putting together better at bats,” Headley said.
Of course, all these good tidings are not possible without C.C. Sabathia, who continues to come up big for the Yankees. The 37-year old southpaw, who is now 10-0 following a loss, tossed six scoreless innings and used his experience and his savvy to work out of two huge jams by retiring Houston’s two hottest hitters. The Astros had bases loaded and two out in the third but Sabathia got Carlos Correa to pop out to short to end the threat. In the fifth, there were two runners on but Sabathia induced Jose Altuve to bounce out into a force play at third and snuff out that opportunity.
In his final inning, Didi Gregorius’ throwing error put runners on first and third but Sabathia picked up his teammate as he retired Josh Reddick on a bouncer back to the mound. Sabathia knew that was his last batter and he was so pumped up that it appeared he and Reddick had exchanged words.
Just as they did in the American League Divisional Series, the Yankees won game three to get back into the series and now comes the pivotal game four. Will they continue to follow the same script and tie the series? Headley said the thought had crossed their minds. “We were just in this position and we proved that we could comeback against a really good team.”
The Yankees play better at home and seem to be feeding off the crowd, not to mention the confines at Jerome Avenue and 161st street. “They’re going nuts from the first pitch to the last pitch. I think it makes it difficult on other teams,” said Headley.
The Yankees want that difficulty to continue in game four later today.