HOUSTON — Of course there was an Aaron Judge highlight in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. It just wasn’t the one the rookie wanted.
Judge robbed Houston’s Yuli Gurriel of a potential home run with a leaping catch at the rightfield wall in the second inning. It was a spectacular catch and kept the game scoreless.
But Judge went 0-for-4 with a strikeout as the Yankees were held to three hits in their season-ending 4-0 loss Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. The Astros are going to the World Series, not the Yankees, and that doesn’t sit well with Judge.
“We didn’t win the World Series,” he said. “How are we satisfied with that? That’s what we want. That’s why we work, that’s why we train, that’s why we do everything in the offseason, the cage work. Everything is to get an opportunity to win a World Series. We came up short.”
Judge finished his first postseason with a .188 average, but he was third on the team in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) at .816. Judge hit four home runs, had 11 RBIs and struck out 27 times in 48 at-bats.
“Getting my first chance to play in front of crowds like that, situations like that, is going to be huge for us going on,” he said. “We have a lot of young guys on this team, and getting as far as we did is going to be beneficial down the road for us.”
In the final at-bat of his remarkable season, Judge struck out on three pitches against Lance McCullers Jr. to end the eighth inning.
He yelled in frustration after waving at a curveball. Still, going from a guy who wasn’t a lock to make the team at the end of spring training to one of the faces of baseball was pretty good.
“I think his future is extremely bright,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he had an unbelievable season. I don’t think I would have predicted that he would be an MVP candidate . . . That’s a lot to ask from a rookie to be an MVP type of candidate. I think the sky’s the limit for this kid. And again, he’s a natural-born leader. And that doesn’t happen at an age where he’s at, where people look to him, and it’s already happening.”
Judge will next be heard from when awards are announced in November. It’ll be a chance to reflect on his personal season, something he wasn’t ready to do Saturday night because he was still thinking about the group who came up a win short of the World Series.
“It was fun,” Judge said. “It was fun coming to the ballpark and competing with these guys. If we were down, if we were up, it didn’t matter. We were always having fun. It was a joy.”