BOSTON -- The Yankees believe that Aaron Judge can fight out of the extended skid that has dented his statistics in the second half, and as such, manager Joe Girardi said that he plans to keep the big-swinging rookie in the No. 3 spot of the lineup.Judge endured a rough
BOSTON -- The Yankees believe that Aaron Judge can fight out of the extended skid that has dented his statistics in the second half, and as such, manager Joe Girardi said that he plans to keep the big-swinging rookie in the No. 3 spot of the lineup.
Judge endured a rough weekend as the Yankees lost two of three games to the division-leading Red Sox, going 1-for-12 with five strikeouts. He was hitless in Sunday's 5-1 loss and is batting .169 (21-for-104) with seven homers and 14 RBIs in 35 games since the All-Star break.
"I'm not getting the job done. I want to be there," Judge said. "I'm a three hitter, I'm the middle of the order. I've got to be that guy for the team. … It's a little disappointing not to get the job done, but nothing you can do about it. You can't pout, you can't cry. You've just got to keep working and move on."
Judge struck out for a 37th consecutive game on Sunday, tying a Major League record set by Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman across the 1971-72 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Over that span, Judge has struck out 62 times and worked 31 walks in 160 plate appearances.
Girardi said that he has not sensed that streak wearing on Judge, and Judge has repeatedly said that strikeouts do not bother him. A dip in production has been more concerning; though he crushed a staggering 457-foot homer to the third deck at Citi Field in Wednesday's win over the Mets, Judge is 3-for-21 on the current trip.
"We're moving in the right direction," Judge said. "It's taking a little longer than I want it to, but I've just got to keep working. There's nothing I can do about it; just keep working and keep trying to make adjustments. Eventually it'll all kind of work out."
Judge said that he has been missing pitches that he hit in the first half, and Girardi believes Judge's issues are related to his mechanics, though Judge appeared in the clubhouse with his left shoulder iced heavily after Sunday's game. Judge said twice that the shoulder "doesn't bother me at all."
Interestingly, Girardi said that it was "legitimate" to wonder if Judge is taking his at-bats into the field. In the eighth inning on Sunday, Mookie Betts lulled Judge into tossing to the cutoff man on an Andrew Benintendi flyout, allowing Betts to tag up to third base.
"That's a legitimate question," Girardi said. "Do you question that maybe it is weighing on him a little bit? [We will] try to get a feel for that."
"I just didn't get a hard throw in to the guy cutting off the ball and he was able to advance," Judge said. "It's just a mistake on my part. I've got to get it in quicker, especially with a guy like Mookie with speed."
Despite the slump, Judge has assembled a remarkable campaign. In 119 games, Judge has compiled a .282/.413/.593 slash line, leading the American League with 37 homers while tied for seventh in the league with 80 RBIs. Judge's 90 walks, 91 runs scored and slugging percentage pace the AL, and he is second in the league in on-base percentage.
"Obviously he's a big part of our lineup and a big reason why we got off to such a good start this year," Brett Gardner said. "I think there's still plenty of time left in the season for him and some other guys to get going and take us where we want to be."
Judge's incredible start to the season, as well as a winning performance at the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, may have set the bar impossibly high with what Girardi called "Hall of Fame numbers."
"When you look at his numbers, they're pretty darned good," Girardi said. "I think he's due for a good streak, and when he does, it's really going to help."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.