He more than redeemed himself later, but Aaron Judge had a not-so-excellent adventure between first and second bases in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
Judge walked against Lance McCullers Jr. in a scoreless game. He remained at first as Didi Gregorius lined out to centerfield.
Judge did not remain at first as Gary Sanchez lofted a fly ball to short right-center. In fact, Judge made it all the way to second base and slightly past it as Astros rightfielder Josh Reddick ran down the ball. Judge hesitated before beginning a mad dash back to first. Reddick threw a two-hopper to first. Judge slid in and was called out to end the inning.
Or so it seemed.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi challenged the call. After a review of 1:24, Judge was ruled safe.
But not for long.
The Astros knew that Judge did not touch second base on his way back to first. They tried to initiate the appeal play. McCullers stepped on the rubber . . . and Judge started for second base again!
The rookie knew he hadn’t touched second and was going to be called out. So he was told by the bench to try to steal on the appeal play, which is totally legal and totally a good idea.
“Running back to first, I didn’t touch second base,” Judge said. “I was safe at first base and they were going to appeal and after that call me out second base. I was going to be out no matter what . . . That’s the only option I had.”
Unfortunately for the Yankees, McCullers whirled and threw to shortstop Carlos Correa, who applied the tag on the sliding Judge.
Judge was out. Again. And the inning ended. For real.
Judge later hit a homer leading off the seventh. He touched ‘em all. And started one of the biggest comebacks in Yankees postseason history. It was Judge who drove in the tying run with a double off the leftfield wall in the eighth and Judge who scored the go-ahead run on Sanchez’s two-run double in the inning.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Judge said. “I haven’t reflected on tonight’s game yet. But as a kid, I’ve been in that situation in my head a thousand times. Game on the line, big-time situation. Going up and getting the job done.”
So all rise . . . and all is forgiven. And the ALCS is tied at two games apiece.