CLEVELAND — Aaron Judge went 1-for-20 with 16 strikeouts in the AL Division Series.
Still, Judge was all smiles and got drenched in Champagne as if he had gone 20-for-20 after the Yankees beat the Indians, 5-2, on Wednesday night to advance to the ALCS.
Judge went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts — the third time in the series he struck out four times in a game.
All the Yankees got from the big bat of the rookie who hit 52 homers in the regular season and one in the wild-card game was a two-run double in Game 4.
And they still won.
“Exactly,” Judge said. “That’s what it’s all about. My teammates picked me up. I haven’t been doing my job there at the top of the order and my teammates came up big for me in the Division Series. So now it’s time to regroup, get ready for the AL Championship [Series].”
Judge did contribute a huge catch in the Yankees’ 1-0 victory in Game 3 when he scaled the rightfield wall at Yankee Stadium to rob Francisco Lindor of a two-run home run. Without that grab, it’s unlikely the Yankees would have been able to complete their comeback from a 2-0 series deficit.
“What a series,” Judge said. “These guys kept fighting. They kept believing in each other and tried to make it happen . . . This is just the beginning for this team. This is just the beginning for us. We’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to celebrate and then we’re going to get ready for Houston.”
Judge was the Yankees’ leading RBI man with 114 in the regular season. But with Judge struggling, the first three RBIs on Wednesday night came from Didi Gregorius, who hit a pair of home runs off Indians ace Corey Kluber.
“Oh my God,” Judge said. “Didi’s been that clutch guy for us all year. When we need a big hit, he’s always come through for us. And for him to come up with those two homers against a Cy Young winner, that’s incredible.”
The final runs came in the ninth on a single by Brett Gardner to cap off a remarkable 12-pitch at-bat off closer Cody Allen. One run scored on the hit and another came home on a throwing error by rightfielder Jay Bruce.
“Against someone like Cody Allen who’s been so dominant, for him to keep fighting off tough pitch after tough pitch and come through, it’s incredible,” Judge said. “That’s Gardy for ya.”