HOUSTON — As Aaron Judge did interviews in the Yankees’ clubhouse at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, a television set above his head showed what seemed like an endless stream of clips of Judge swinging and missing.
There was a lot of video to choose from after the Yankees’ five-game victory over the Indians in the American League Division Series. Judge went 1-for-20 with 16 strikeouts.
“Just missing the mistakes,” he said. “That’s been the biggest thing for me. They’re making a lot of pitches and nibbling on the edge. When they do make a mistake and throw one over the plate, I’m not capitalizing on it. That’s probably the biggest thing I’m seeing right now.”
But all that gets wiped away as Judge and the Yankees begin the American League Championship Series against the Astros on Friday night. Judge will be in his familiar No. 2 spot in the order and will try to make more contact against the Houston staff.
Another storyline for the national audience will be watching Judge go up against Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. The long and short of it is the 6-7 Judge and the 5-6 Altuve are top candidates for the AL MVP award. After the ALCS, one of them will be playing in his first World Series.
“It’s about the Astros vs. the Yankees,” Judge said. “Who’s going to go to the World Series. It’s just about the team right now.”
Altuve led the AL with a .346 batting average and 204 hits. He also hit 24 home runs, drove in 81 runs and stole 32 bases. In the Astros’ four-game ALDS win over the Red Sox, he was 8-for-15 (.533), including a three-homer game.
Glimmer of hope? The Yankees held Altuve to a .250 average in seven regular-season games. But that also could lead to a glimmer of nope because they haven’t seen his best.
Judge got to pal around with Altuve a little at the All-Star Game in July.
“What a great guy,” Judge said. “We see what he does on the baseball field, but the type of person he is, you see the passion he has for the game. It’s fun to watch.”
Altuve did not speak with reporters on Thursday. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said he is looking forward to the matchup.
“Really big [MVP] candidates,” he said. “Obviously, for me, Altuve’s the MVP, but it’s going to be fun to watch.”