Judge still swinging & missing
CLEVELAND — All year long, Aaron Judge has said his high number of strikeouts doesn’t bother him, and even through the first four games of the ALDS, he insisted he wasn’t concerned by the huge amount of strikeouts he had amassed.
But with four more whiffs in Wednesday night’s 5-2 win over the Indians in Game 5 of the ALDS at Progressive Field, it’s clear there’s an issue with the Yankees right fielder, who went 1for-20 with 16 strikeouts in the series.
His lone hit was a key, two-run double in their Game 4 victory, but after striking out four times in a game just once in the regular season, he did it three times against the Indians.
For the most part, the record-setting rookie, who hit 52 homers in the regular season, was invisible.
The Yankees came back against the Indians thanks to starting pitching and some big hits by Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez — and, on Wednesday, Didi Gregorius.
“We pick each other up,” Judge said. “I didn’t have my best series, but the most important thing is we’re going to Houston for ALCS.”
Judge continued to struggle Wednesday, striking out swinging on a 3-2 pitch in the first and again in the third, both against Corey Kluber. He went down swinging again in the fifth versus Andrew Miller.
Facing Bryan Shaw in the sixth, with one out and Brett Gardner on first, Judge stared at a called strike three, while Gardner was caught trying to steal second to end the inning.
“We’ve relied on him all year, so it’s about time we’ve got him,” Gardner said. “When you’re winning and you don’t do well, you don’t take it so bad. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’ll be ready in the next round and I’m sure he’ll deliver.”
“I’m just missing my pitch,” Judge said. “They didn’t make too mistakes. But it’s not tough for me. I’ve been through this before. Everyone has. Guys were able to pick me up when I wasn’t able to get the job done.”
It’s been a stunning regression for Judge, who followed a dominant first half by falling into an epic slump in July and August, only to come out of it with a brilliant September, when he hit 13 homers.