Aaron Judge’s Dream Season Turns Into October’s Nightmare

Imagine « Citizen Kane » without being shown what « Rosebud » is. « Friends » with no resolution on Ross and Rachel. « The Great Gatsby » without its last page.

Will Aaron Judge’s unforgettable season really end in such a forgettable way? Will the Judge’s era in Yankees baseball be remembered for his inability to even reach the World Series because they notably could never solve the Astros?

The boom regular season turns into the boo playoffs.

Judge carried the Yankees through the good times, and especially the bad, during one of the greatest regular seasons of all time. But he wasn’t a playoff weightlifter. He was a co-conspirator in historic offensive ineptitude in these playoffs. But, of course, he is a judge. He is therefore not an acolyte of wickedness. It is its face.

The Yankees have played 10 games against the Astros this season and the only two they’ve won — hell, the only two they’ve had a lead in after any of the 91 innings those teams have gone to in 2022 — are came on judge’s hits. in two games at the end of June. Then, like now, the Yankees do like Judge.

So, the Yankees are about to go home.

Aaron Judge heads for the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning of the Yankees' Game 3 loss.
Aaron Judge heads for the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ Game 3 loss.
New York Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Which means the conversation is about to move from the judge’s vision of free will to the reality of free will. So, this could be the year in which we remember Judge finishing the season as a giant and finishing the offseason as a giant. And that, in between, he came small. This in between celebrating love with the Yankees crowd actually took a detour to the taunts.

Judge had miscommunication on defense with Harrison Bader to help give the Astros two runs in the second inning and, with one last chance to maybe get his team back in the game, he failed with two ons and two outs. in eighth.

The Astros won 5-0. They lead this AL Championship Series 3-0. So, for the third time in six years – the entire Judge era – the Yankees are on the verge of being eliminated in the ALCS by the Astros. Their excuses (stealing signs, buzzers, opening a retractable roof) are a reflection of their performance against Houston – which is getting worse. They lost in seven games in 2017 and six games in 2019 and this time are on the verge of humiliation.

The Astros, in their sixth straight ALCS, are simply better. Period. The Yankees? They’ve never come closer to the World Series in that span than they did in Judge’s rookie season (2017), even after taking off one of Houston’s aces (Cole) after the loss from the ALCS in 2019. These Yankees played playoff bully, able to beat weak AL Central teams and crumble to the Rays once, Red Sox twice and probably now the Astros thrice.

Aaron Boone and Anthony Rizzo watch the action in the fifth inning of the Yankees' third loss.
A dejected Aaron Boone and Anthony Rizzo watch the action in the fifth inning of the Yankees’ third loss.
Corey Sipkins

Even without Cole, Houston has assembled a dynamic team. The Yankees didn’t hit much against the Guardians. But it was the Guardians. They still found a way. It’s the Astros. It’s just a different beast. And the Yankees are trying to win without the professional drummers of Andrew Benintendi and DJ LeMahieu, with a diminished Matt Carpenter and a decrepit Josh Donaldson.

It only heightened the need for Judge to emulate the MVP-level player who hit an AL-record 62 home runs and spent six months delivering one huge hit after another. But that judge didn’t show up in those playoffs, even though he hit two home runs against Cleveland.

Game 3 of this ALCS was the worst. Bader and Judge are probably the Yankees’ two best defensemen. Christian Vazquez lifted a ball between them which should have been the third on a scoreless second inning. Instead, the judge brushed past Bader, who knocked the ball out of his glove for an error. Chas McCormick followed with a two-run homer and the Yankees were in chase mode again.

Aaron Judge hits in the sixth inning of the Yankees' Game 3 loss.
Aaron Judge hits in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ Game 3 loss.

They had lamented that open roof in Houston possibly preventing a judge driving right in the eighth inning of Game 2 from coming out and giving the Yankees a late lead. It would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium. But neither the judge nor anyone else on that scruffy offense was able to get the ball over the Yankee Stadium fence.

Cristian Javier had pitched the best game against the Yankees this season, pitching the first seven innings of a no-hitter game on June 25 with 13 strikeouts. He wasn’t as clean on Saturday, but still failed to make a hit in 5 ¹/₃ innings. He threw just one first-pitch strike to six of 19 batters. However, the Yankees could not do anything, even in front of the count.

These are the times the Yankees look to Judge for magic. Instead, he struck twice more. He’s 5 for 32 with 14 strikeouts this postseason. Against Houston, he has one hit in 12 at-bats. The Yankees as a team are hitting .128 in the first three games.

You don’t need to be a jury or a judge to see the obvious. The Yankees’ only path to defeating a superior team living in their head would be for their best player to get up to that point.

This does not happen.


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