As the Yankees returned to the Bronx for a pivotal Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, something else made its way front and center — the long ball.
For the first time in a long time, Yankees fans were treated to a ball game without a racing pulse and sweat beading up on their brow.
I almost forgot what that phenomenon was like since the 8-1 victory in Game 3 is the first time the Yanks have won a playoff game this postseason that hasn’t hung under the banner of possible elimination.
Todd Frazier got the party started in the second inning with what Frazier called an “unorthodox swing” — shooting a 365-foot off-balance home run over the right-field wall to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Having led the majors with 241 home runs, 140 of which came at home, the Yankees jumped all over Astros starter, and one-time, self-proclaimed Yanks fan, Charlie Morton.
Similar to game 5 of the ALDS when Didi Gregorius’ two, early inning home runs allowed CC Sabathia to settle in and pitch with little to no pressure, Monday night was no different.
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Once again, Sabathia was terrific, hurling six innings of shutout ball — while striking five. Sabathia is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts following a Yankees’ loss this season.
As for the Astros’ big bats, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, the pair combined to go 1-for-8.
But in all the hoopla of Game 3, the night belonged to the presumptive AL Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge.
What began in the top of the fourth-inning with a crashing grab into the right-field wall, continued with a diving catch to rob a base hit, and eventually culminated in a three-run exclamation point off of reliever, Will Harris.
The pitch, which looked to be around Judge’s neck, was turned on like a dime.
What could very well be the jump-off point for Judge to finally make his mark on the remainder of these playoffs, just goes to show that he is the perfect combination of sheer athleticism and raw power.
Following the win, manager Joe Girardi reminded ESPN what Judge is all about.
"“We’ve played how many playoff games — nine? He [has] seven RBIs,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He gets his walks, got another one tonight. I know how dangerous he is. He can really change a game really quickly.”"