'I have a job to do': Judge's issues vs. Guardians continue

October 15th, 2022

NEW YORK – Yankees outfielder had a regular season for the ages, slamming an American League record 62 home runs, while driving in a Major League-leading 131 runs.

But, so far, Judge is not having a postseason to remember in the AL Division Series against the Guardians. The stats aren’t pretty, either. After two games, Judge is 0-for-8 with a walk and seven strikeouts. This is the second time this season in which he had at least three strikeouts in consecutive games (May 3-4 vs. Toronto).

In Friday’s 4-2 loss in 10 innings vs. the Guardians, Judge struck out four times. In fact, he received some boos from the Yankees fans after he struck out the fourth time in the seventh inning. Surprising, considering that he has carried the team all year.

“It's the Bronx, man,” manager Aaron Boone said.

Judge didn’t have any excuses for his mini-slump. He said he doesn’t feel any pressure whenever he is in the batter’s box. He simply has to play better. Judge is the leadoff hitter, after all. He is the one that has to get on base and ignite the offense.

“This is nothing new,” Judge said. “Having the crowds that we did -- at home and on the road -- kind of prepared us for these moments. You really don’t think about it. I have a job to do out there. That’s what I have to focus on.”

Judge has an idea why he is in a slump. It’s all about timing and Judge believes that he will bounce back against the Guardians starting Saturday.

“When you are a little late [at the plate], you miss some pitches you usually do some damage on and you are usually swinging at stuff that you don’t,” he said. "I’ve had two bad games in my career multiple times. It’s part of it. You have to learn from your mistakes. You have to get ready for the next one. There are no breaks right now. We have quite a few [games] in a row.”

Judge’s postseason problems against Cleveland are nothing new, dating back to the 2017 ALDS. In that series, Judge went 1-for 20 with 16 strikeouts. He is now 2-for-37 with 27 strikeouts against Cleveland in three postseasons (2017, 2020 and 2022).

Those 27 strikeouts are the second-most against one opponent in the postseason, behind the Dodgers' Duke Snider's 33 against the Yankees.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Judge is the only player to lead his league in home runs and strike out four times in a game in the postseason. No other player had done it. Judge has now done it four times. The other other three times came in the 2017 ALDS against Cleveland.

“[We’re] making sure he's not comfortable out there, and he's a good player and he has the power,” said Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, who allowed Judge to make contact on a groundout in the ninth inning. “But I just focus on my strengths and what I can do. I've faced him in the past and I know he's a good hitter -- just try to execute my pitches and try to get him out.”

Although the Guardians have been executing pitches and kept Judge hitless in the first two games, don’t expect manager Terry Francona to brag about the team’s success against the most feared hitter in the Major Leagues this year.

“I think sometimes you know, hitters can't hit a button, and good as guys are, sometimes guys take 0-fers,” Francona said. “Until you get through a series successfully, I don't think anybody is going to stand up here and pound our chest. He's too dangerous. We know that.”

Judge’s teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, believes Judge will bounce back against the Guardians. Stanton reminded the media that there are at least two games to go in the series.

“The series [is not over]. He has had 10 or less at-bats. It’s just a small sample size. He has plenty of time,” Stanton said. "And the [last two games] are over. We have to win two out of three. He can help us do so.”