CLEVELAND — Aaron Judge wasn’t making too much of it, just as he wasn’t making too much of the struggles that preceded it.
Judge hit a three-run homer to right-center Sunday afternoon in the seventh inning, a screaming line drive (exit velocity: 113 mph) with the trajectory of a 1-iron that brought back memories of the rookie’s first half of this season.
“I would describe it as baseball, that’s what happens,” Judge said of the stretch he’s had since the All-Star break, which has featured more downs than ups. “You have two weeks where you’re good, two weeks where you flat-out stink.”
Entering Sunday, Judge had a .178/.330/.342 slash line, four homers, nine RBIs and 32 strikeouts in 21 games since the break. He struck out three times in the Yankees’ 8-1 victory over the Indians, making it 24 straight games in which he’s fanned at least once (a total of 40 strikeouts). It raised his season total to 144 in 378 at-bats.
“It’s just part of it,” Judge said of his struggles. “You have to accept it and learn from it and try to find the missing link and move on and do whatever you can to help the team.”
After a brilliant outing Saturday night in which he allowed one run and three hits in five innings, rookie lefthander Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. The move was not a shock; the Yankees acquired Jaime Garcia and Sonny Gray before the trade deadline to be in the rotation and never intended to stick with a six-man rotation. Montgomery, 24, is 7-6 with a 4.05 ERA.
Holliday to DL
Matt Holliday was put on the 10-day disabled list with a left lumbar strain and first baseman Garrett Cooper was recalled from Triple-A. “I hope that’s all it is,” Joe Girardi said of the possibility of Holliday being able to return after 10 days. “Backs are tricky.”
Greg Bird (right ankle) said the plan is for him to increase his baseball activities this week in Toronto, taking batting practice and ground balls and making progress in his running. Said Bird, “I’m excited.”