I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think that this Aaron Judge cat is pretty good at the sport of baseball. He woke up the Yankees in Game 3 and then, just as they were about to nap it out for the winter, he hit them with the paddles again in Game 4.
Yesterday’s game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Houston. Lance McCullers Jr. was dealing and then the Astros scored three in the top of the sixth inning on a bases clearing double. Then added another run in the seventh inning on an error by Starlin Castro. At that point, they were nine outs away from a 3-1 lead with Dallas Keuchel going tonight and Justin Verlander on Friday, if necessary. They had their foot on the Yankees throat and a chance to close it out quickly.
What I’m saying is: 4-0 in the seventh inning felt like enough. Not my words, Carlos Beltran’s, who told Yahoo: “We thought that was going to be enough to win the ballgame. It wasn’t.”
No, it wasn’t. The truth is, it probably would’ve been enough to beat most teams. Almost any team, actually, except for one with Aaron James Judge. Because Mr. FOMO came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and changed the series yet again.
According to the stats, that was 427 feet to center. How strange is it that when I’m talking about an Aaron Judge home run that goes 427 feet, I almost feel like saying, “only 427 feet,” but that’s true. Because that’s what this guy does to baseballs.
Gary Sanchez made it 4-2 by driving in Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner made it 4-3 in the 8th. But as much as this was a team effort, last night was all about Judge. Because he came up again in the 8th inning and hit the game tying double. And then Judge and Gregorius came around to score on a Sanchez double and suddenly, it’s 6-4 Yankees and the Astros were trying to figure out what happened. But Houston’s not alone. I’m trying to figure out what happened and what is happening.
How do you explain this? How does a guy in his rookie season show up like this? How does he hit 52 home runs in the regular season, essentially lock up the rookie of the year award, have a great look at the MVP, and then show up like this in the postseason? And do all of it in New York, where the spotlight is so bright and the pressure is so great?
Judge hasn’t just changed the Yankees chances in this series, he’s changed Yankee fans in this series. Ask anyone, and they’d tell you that the new Yankee Stadium has never been as loud as the old Yankee Stadium. Until now.
Just ask Todd Frazier: “It just keeps getting louder and louder. That double by Sanchez – I thought my head was gonna explode. I’m looking in the crowd and going crazy. It was just spectacular.”
Joe Girardi was in the old yard in the loud old days, but he’s hearing something familiar now: “I just feel like the fans are back. And I see things that I haven’t seen in a while and it reminds me a lot when I was playing here. So it’s been fun to watch.”
So now the Yankees have gotten off the canvas yet again. You simply cannot shovel dirt on these guys, not when they’re down 2-0, not ever. Game 5 is tonight with Keuchel v. Tanaka. And if you think you know what’s going to happen, you’re a liar. Because there’s no way of knowing.
Keuchel could be just as masterful as he was in Game 1. The Astros bats could break out again. The Yankees could keep rolling. I just know that if Aaron Judge is playing, I’ll be watching, because I don’t want to miss out.