Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge hit a three-run home run to break out of a slump and made two acrobatic catches in right field to lead New York to an 8-1 win over the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Since Game 1 of the ALDS, Judge had been in a 2-for-28 slide with 20 strikeouts. But in the bottom of the fourth inning, Judge broke out if it by hitting a three-run home run off Will Harris that turned a five-run lead into an 8-0 rout.
"He's extremely talented," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You can look at his numbers and say he's not hitting for an average. We've played how many playoff games, nine? He gets seven RBIs, he gets his walk, got another one tonight. I know how dangerous he is. He can really change a game really quickly."
Judge also helped protect CC Sabathia's shutout bid by making two stellar catches in right field. In the top of the fourth inning, he made a leaping catch while crashing into the wall to rob Yuli Gurriel of extra bases. An inning later, he dove into shallow right field to retire Cameron Maybin for the first out.
"That was just a great play," Sabathia said. "Off the bat, here with the short right field I didn't know what the result was going to be, but for him to go up and go all out and make that catch was unbelievable."
The 25-year-old Judge hit 52 home runs and 114 RBIs in his rookie season, but has a .147/.293/.353 batting line in the postseason. Despite his struggles, he said he has been able to stay positive.
"It's baseball, I've got to enjoy the good times and the bad times," Judge said. "That's what I picked up and learned from my teammates. They've supported me through the good times and the bad times. Like I said, I get a chance to play in the ALCS with the New York Yankees, it's a dream come true."
Girardi said Judge has been struggling in part due to the larger strike zone he has given his 6-foot-7 frame.
"I think that in the struggles he's still been pretty patient," he said. "Yeah, he gets a little bit off mechanically. I think part of that is probably being 6-7. And I felt like there's been some borderline pitches called on him that didn't go his way, that it can change in a bat. The difference between 2-0 or 1-1 or -- or 2-1 and 1-2, it's a big difference."
But Judge said he hasn't adjusted his approach at the plate in the postseason.
"I haven't changed anything since Day 1," Judge said. "It was a big change I wanted to make this year was just prepare the right way, prepare the same way, and see how it works. It works during the regular season, and why would I come in the postseason and try to change something?"