Aaron Judge’s 1st playoff homer goes in vain, fails to save Yankees in ALDS Game 3

Aaron Judge of NY Yankees

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CLEVELAND — The New York Yankees changed the ALDS Game 3 lineup pushing Aaron Judge to the second position on Saturday. It helped the slugger to hit a two-run homer off Guardians’ starter Triston McKenzie in the third inning. But the home run was not enough to save the Yankees, who stunningly lost 6-5 to the Guardians.

The power hitter had no hits and eight strikeouts in his first nine postseason at-bats. In Game 3, he was moved down in the lineup, and second baseman Gleyber Torres moved to the top of the order.

It was the first time in more than a month that Aaron Judge wasn’t in the leadoff spot. The Yankees did this to get their MVP Award candidate to perform better in the postseason, and it worked. His home run tied the game at Progressive Field.

Statcast says it was the longest of Judge’s 12 home runs in the postseason. It went 449 feet and Aaron Judge finished with a score of 1 for 4.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone justified dropping Aaron Judge and told:

“I just kind of woke up on it. Let me do that to not have all the focus on the first at-bat of the game [so Judge can] settle in. I feel like we’re a little more whole than we were even 10 days ago, so I just feel like it’s more doable now.”

Aaron Judge had batted first in 25 straight games, including the postseason, starting on September 9. Boone said that having the Yankees’ best slugger bat first was to give their best player more chances to hit, and it was also a response to injuries to Andrew Benintendi and DJ LeMahieu.

Boone said, “Without DJ and Benny, we don’t really have a good leadoff hitter besides Judge.”

A-Rod demands a change to the “gimmicky” lineup

Alex Rodriguez, who used to play for the Yankees and is now an analyst for FOX, was one of the people who wanted Aaron Judge to move out of the leadoff spot. Rodriguez said on the air Friday that the way the lineup was put together was “gimmicky baseball.”

“You cannot [have] your best player, your best hitter, hitting first,” Rodriguez said on Friday, “Babe Ruth didn’t do it. Barry Bonds didn’t do it. Frank [Thomas] didn’t do it. [David Ortiz] didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. It doesn’t exist. The reason why is you want to protect [Judge]. Like, you play chess, it’s like the queen on the chess board. You want to put the best two hitters in front, and the best two hitters behind, and protect. The Yankees are putting the worst two hitters, the eighth and ninth hitter, and it puts an enormous amount of pressure [on Judge].”

Boone said he hadn’t heard what Rodriguez had to say before he changed the Yankees’ Game 3 lineup. The manager then said, “Well, if A-Rod says it, it must be true.”

Aaron Judge’s home in the last part of the season was the leadoff spot as he tried to break ex-Yankee Roger Maris’ American League home run record for a single season. On October 3, at Arlington, TX, he hit his 62nd home run, which broke the record.

Aaron Judge played in 23 games between September 9 and the end of the Yankees’ regular season. He hit .364/.519/.701 with five doubles, seven home runs, and 13 RBIs. Judge didn’t get a hit in the first two games of the ALDS. He walked once, scored a run, stole a base, and struck out seven times.

Most of Judge’s at-bats this season came in the No. 2 spot, where he started 112 games, made 506 plate appearances, and slashed .294/406/680, and he hit 47 home runs. He hit first in 34 games, with a batting line of .366/.481/.740 and 13 home runs. Aaron Judge also started seven games at third base, where he hit two home runs and hit .360/.467/.600.

Boone said that he would usually talk to Judge about moving him up or down in the lineup, but he didn’t do that before the Yankees’ ALDS Game 3.

Should the Yankees keep Aaron Judge at No. 2 position?

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