The Yankees arrive home down two games to zero in the American League Division Series, suffering from bruised psyches.
The club has shown resiliency at many points during the season, but ask a Yankee fan to name one player that will lead them in a comeback in the Bronx, and one name will be uttered more than others.
Judge has been quiet since leaving the scene of the AL Wild Card Game, where he homered as part of an eight-run barrage in the Yankees victory over the Twins. In Cleveland, Judge's mighty bat was silenced, both with his teammates in the ALDS Game 1 shutout, and while they struck an unlikely bombardment of Indians' ace, Corey Kluber, in Game 2.
Judge went 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the two games in Cleveland, but his approach in Game 2 was much better as he was able to draw three walks. The Yankees hope the hits will come Sunday night in the Bronx.
Yankee Stadium is Judge's backdrop. The undeniable AL Rookie of the Year and the choice of some for the league's Most Valuable Player Award flourished in the Bronx during the regular season.
Judge seems to thrive off the Yankee Stadium fans as much as he does belt-high fastballs. The Yankees did not need to construct Judge's Chambers in right field to boost his stardom -- the fans would have anointed him their savior regardless.
"Playing in front of these fans has been amazing," Judge told MLB.com in May. "They are always yelling. They are always screaming. They are always on their feet. They have a lot of good energy that we can feed off of."
Judge's immense stature, the blistering he inflicts on baseballs, and the humble nature in which he conducts his interviews with media has many inside the game along with those watching it from the stands, living rooms and bars begging for more. Yankee fans have their face of the franchise, and while he will deny he is until the question is left unasked, the praise pours in from all directions.
Indians manager Terry Francona agreed with the sentiment on Judge and understands the 25-year-old is the player to fear on the Yankees.
He's good for Major League Baseball. He's bad for the teams you're playing against," Francona told media on Wednesday. "He's really good. From all acounts, he's a really special young man. I didn't get a chance to meeet him at the All-Star game because I wasn't there, but everyone came back raving about him as a person. I know, you throw it in the wrong place, he's going to hit it a long way."
There isn't a stadium that can contain Judge. His immense power has been distributed all over the field this season, but when his approach and mechanics are sound, he's searching to drive the ball to right field. For left-handed batters in Yankee Stadium, becoming pull happy can become a detriment. For Judge, the inviting opposite field short porch in right field actually helps with his swing.
Judge was able to overcome a lengthy drought in the summer by maintaining an even keel mentally, and working on his approach and mechanics at the plate. His ability to shift from a rough Game 1 four-strikeout performance to one in which he drew three walks in Game 2, might portend to even better results in friendlier confines.
The chorus of boos from fans in Progressive Field will turn to load ovations each time Judge's name is announced over the Yankee Stadium loud speaker. If regular season home games and the wild card game are any indication of what's to come, Judge will parlay the adrenaline boost into majestic home runs, which very well might lead the Yankees back to Cleveland.