It hasn’t been a great year for the reeling New York Yankees. Between key injuries, underperformance, and an ultra-competitive American League East, the Yankees are mired in last place and, before Wednesday night, were nursing their worst losing streak in decades. However, as the Yankees stood on the precipice of matching their worst losing streak since 1913, injured star Aaron Judge stepped up and joined an elite club, at least among his teammates.
Judge clubbed three dingers en route to a six RBI game and a 9-1 Yankee victory over the Washington Nationals. The outburst came at just the right time as the reeling Yanks teeter on the verge of being out of contention. The last-place Yankees sit at 61-65, and as August winds down, they have to make a serious move to remain relevant.
Judge, who injured his toe on the Dodger Stadium fence on June 3 and missed almost eight weeks, has been a big lift to the clubhouse since his return. The reigning MVP has 27 homers and 54 RBI in 72 games, but the biggest lift from his return might be psychological.
After the game, a sense of levity seemed pervasive in the clubhouse. Judge, who had numerous two home run games, had never had three as his manager, Aaron Boone, and teammates Kyle Higashioka and Anthony Rizzo all have in their careers, and they liked to constantly remind Judge of that fact.
After the game, Judge said: “He would always remind me, every game I’d have two and I couldn’t get the third one: ‘Hey, one of these days, kid, you’ll join my club,’ but Judge also reiterated, “I don’t play this game to hit homers. I play the game to put us in position to win ballgames.”
Prior to the most recent stretch, there had been talk of shutting the reigning MVP down for the season. With the Yankees falling out of contention and Judge still clearly nursing the toe, Yankees GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone had a decision to make.
Cashman spoke on that prospect: “He came back when he didn’t have to and was still compromised. He’s still playing through it, but it’s going well. If we’re in a position where we feel he’s in jeopardy [of further injury], we’ll have that conversation. Forgetting our playoff situation, if it’s a risky situation, we’ll have that conversation.”
Yankee skipper Aaron Boone sounded a bit more positive on the matter: “I think he’s doing well. He continues to improve from when he first came back to now. I think he’s in a better place and is pretty much playing every day.”
Considering Judge’s importance to the franchise, it would be prudent to shut him down and let him fully heal if the Yankees endure another skid. In the meantime, as long as the slugger continues to show signs of improvement and the club staves off disaster, Aaron Judge will likely be out there every day gutting through a painful big toe injury and trying to keep the Yankees’ October dreams alive.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
"*" indicates required fields