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Aaron Judge: Blame players for Yankees' struggles, not Aaron Boone

Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a foul ball during

Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a foul ball during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Buffalo. Credit: AP/Jeffrey T. Barnes

BUFFALO — Aaron Judge is very much aware of the criticism that has been lobbed his manager’s way because of the Yankees’ slow start.

And the rightfielder said those who have been calling for Aaron Boone’s head are mistaken in directing their anger that way.

"That’s on us [players]. That comes on even me specifically," Judge said on the field Thursday after batting practice. "As a leader of this team, I’ve got to step up in big situations, step up in other situations. Get on base, drive guys in, make the right plays in the outfield. I would never put it on the manager or a coach. That’s silly. It’s on the players. It’s always been on the players. We’re the ones playing the game. It’s on us."

Judge struck out swinging on a hanging 3-and-2 slider down the middle with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning Thursday night. Gleyber Torres then grounded out on a 3-and-2 pitch to end the inning with the Yankees leading 1-0.

The Yankees -- who pulled off a 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play to escape the first inning -- came into Thursday night 35-32 but were attempting to complete a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays after losing 13 of the previous 18 games.

They have shown some signs of emerging from what essentially has been a season-long slump on offense. Judge said there have been multiple meetings in that time — some players-only, some run by Boone — and, at some point, an enough-is-enough message has taken hold.

"Everyone might have kind of been sitting there like, ‘Hey, eventually we’ll get there, eventually we’ll get there,’ " Judge said. "Well, eventually, it’s got to happen right now. And we know that as a team."

Fill 'er up

When the Yankees start a three-game series against Oakland on Friday night, Yankee Stadium will be open at full capacity for the first time since the 2019 postseason.

"I hope it’s sold out," Judge said. "I think Yankees fans and everyone’s been waiting for this moment. I think us as players, as fans keep filing in and we get larger crowds, I think we’re starting to heat up as well. So if we can have Yankee Stadium with a sold-out crowd, I think that would help us out."

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