To say the Cleveland Indians pitching staff has tormented Aaron Judge in their American League Division Series matchup would be a colossal understatement. He was 0-for-10 with eight strikeouts in the first three games of the series. Including a four-strikeout night in Game 1 when the Indians started Trevor Bauer.
Well, Judge got his revenge in Game 4 — getting his first hit of the series and knocking Bauer out of the game in just the second inning. Judge knocked a two-run double off the left-field wall, plating Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner.
In a bit of fitting baseball symmetry, Judge’s double made the score 4-0, the same work by which Bauer beat the Yankees in Game 1. The Yankees would eventually win 7-3 to force a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday in Cleveland.
The Indians had neutralized Judge by feeding him a steady diet of breaking balls down and away. It was a strategy that Bauer employed for part of their eight-pitch battle. But Judge, to his credit, was able to lay off three of Bauer’s knuckle-curves that broke into the dirt. On the eighth pitch, a fastball up and in, Judge knocked it off the wall.
It’s the type of adjustment that Judge was able to make in September, when he fixed his post-All Star slump and homered himself back into the MVP discussion. The Indians still were able to strike out Judge four times in Monday’s game, so it wasn’t a huge breakthrough for the Yankees slugger.
He’ll need to keep making adjustments to help keep the Yankees alive in the playoffs.
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