Aaron Judge broke into the mile-wide smile fans have become familiar with in the early-morning hours Sunday in Boston.
“There’s nothing like it,” Judge said of Yankee Stadium during the postseason.
The Yankees, by way of a 6-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 2 of their best-of-five American League Division Series on Saturday night, swiped home-field advantage from Boston.
Game 3 will be played Monday night at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees are 7-0 in the last two postseasons, outscoring the opposition 42-14 in those games.
Luis Severino, who rebounded from a rough second half to produce a solid start in the AL Wild Card game victory over the A’s, will take on former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi in the 7:40 p.m. start.
“We can’t wait,” Judge said. “I’ve never been a part of an atmosphere like that, the way the fans … they’re out there on the field with you. Every single pitch, they’re locked in. It’s electric. I’ve tried to describe it and I still can’t.”
Last October, Judge did try to describe it, saying “that ballpark is alive.” He added that even if a teammate was standing next to him talking, in certain situations, “you can’t hear a thing” that person said.
Even the eventual World Series champion Astros crumbled in the clamor that was Yankee Stadium in last year’s ALCS, taking a 2-0 series lead into the three games in the Bronx and losing all three by a combined 19-5 score. The Astros, who enjoyed their own home-field advantage at Minute Maid Park and took the final two games there to beat the Yankees in seven, freely admitted to being affected by the Stadium din.
“New York is no joke,” Dallas Keuchel said after getting beaten up in Game 5. “It was rocking these three games."
Gary Sanchez’s two-run double off Ken Giles in the eighth inning of Game 4 capped a four-run inning, snapped a 4-4 tie and produced a sound that Astros shortstop Carlos Correa shook his head thinking about a day later.
“I never heard anything as loud as it was yesterday when Gary hit that double,” Correa said.
The Yankees went 53-28 at home this season – the second-best home mark in the majors (the Red Sox were 57-24) – and hit 144 of their MLB-record 267 homers there. The Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 at home in 2017.
“It's been huge. I've never played in an atmosphere like playing in New York in the postseason for the last couple of years. It's been unbelievable,” said Dellin Betances, a Yankees draft pick in 2006 who debuted with the club in 2011. “It's going to be even crazier now that we're playing Boston."
Aaron Boone, who sent the old Stadium into hysterics with his pennant-winning homer against the Red Sox in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, said he anticipates an “amazing” atmosphere Monday night. It will be the first postseason game in New York between the rivals since Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. No Yankees fan, naturally, needs to be (or would want to be) reminded of that night.
“I think the connection that our fan base and our fans now have with our players is a special one, and now you put it in the postseason, and you bring the Red Sox, who, obviously, that rivalry that's there and as great of a team as they were this season, I think the atmosphere tomorrow night is going to be special, electric, whatever you want to put on it,” Boone said. “I think it's going to be there, and hopefully we can go out there and give them reason to keep building as the game unfolds. I thought the atmosphere against the A's was special. I think there's a potential that it could be even more so tomorrow night.”