CLEVELAND (AP) — Aaron Boone woke up with an idea: Drop Aaron Judge.
New York’s manager moved the AL home run king out of the leadoff spot and into the No. 2 hole for Game 3 of the AL Division Series on Saturday as the Yankees try to break Judge out of his postseason slump.
Judge, who set the AL record with 62 home runs this season and contended for the Triple Crown, is 0 for 8 in the series against Cleveland with seven strikeouts. He struck out four times in New York’s 4-2 loss in 10 innings in Game 2, and got booed at Yankee Stadium.
“Judge has hit a lot of second in his career, and just wanted to shake that up a little bit,” Boone said.
Boone juggled his lineup, dropping Judge as well Anthony Rizzo from No. 2 to No. 3 and Oswaldo Cabrera from six to nine. He also moved Isiah Kiner-Falefa up from seventh to sixth and Harrison Bader from nine to seven.
New York is facing Cleveland right-hander Triston McKenzie in Game 3.
The Yankees are without a true leadoff hitter with DJ LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi both out with injuries.
“Judge is the most logical leadoff guy with us with no D.J. and no Bennie,” Boone said. “So, that’s as big a thing as anything.”
Judge has had major issues against Cleveland in three postseason series, going just 2 of 37 with 27 strikeouts in nine games.
However, Boone isn’t worried about the superstar and believes he’s close to getting his swing right.
“I think he’s just a tick off timing-wise,” Boone said. “Looking forward to him going out there and stringing some good ABs (at-bats) together.”
Judge started 34 times in the leadoff spot this season, many of them beginning in mid-September as he chased Roger Maris’ league record of 61 homers.
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