Judge, slumping Yankees on the brink after getting blanked

Oct 22, 2022, 6:11 AM | Updated: 7:51 pm
New York Yankees Aaron Judge reacts after striking out against the Houston Astros during the fourth...

New York Yankees Aaron Judge reacts after striking out against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning of Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

              Houston Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier (53) delivers against the New York Yankees during the first inning of Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
            
              New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole reacts after giving up a two-run home run against the Houston Astros during the second inning of Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
            
              New York Yankees Josh Donaldson reacts after striking out to end the second inning of Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
            
              New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Carpenter reacts as he walks off the field after flying out to end the fourth inning of Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
            
              New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone walks off the field after a pitching change during the sixth inning of Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Back home for a must-win game, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees generated more boos than base hits.

One more punchless performance and their season is over.

Handcuffed again by Cristian Javier and Houston’s stingy pitching staff, the power-packed Yankees went down meekly Saturday on three harmless hits in a 5-0 defeat that left them on the brink of a four-game sweep by the Astros in the AL Championship Series.

“We’ve got a lot of talented individuals in this room and just haven’t been able to get everybody clicking,” Judge said in a quiet Yankees clubhouse.

New York must find a way to bust out of its playoff slump Sunday night in Game 4 and beyond, or it will be 13 years and counting without a World Series appearance.

That’s a long time in the storied annals of baseball’s most successful franchise. But the only hope remaining for these $254 million Yankees is an improbable rally that would make them just the second team in major league history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series.

Boston accomplished the feat in the 2004 ALCS against the rival Yankees on the way to winning its first World Series championship in 86 years.

“Our backs are against the wall now,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Collectively, we’ve just got to do a better job of putting pressure on them.”

Right now, New York would welcome something as simple as a clutch single — because the Astros are Yankees kryptonite.

After totaling just four runs during two losses in Houston to begin the series, New York’s normally potent lineup looked even more overmatched Saturday in providing zero support for ace Gerrit Cole.

“I think they’ve attacked the zone,” third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “They have good stuff. They have good arms over there. Can’t take anything away from those guys, but we just need to be better.”

Judge, who set an American League record with 62 home runs during the regular season, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and never got the ball out of the infield. He is batting .156 with 14 strikeouts and three RBIs in the playoffs, including 1 for 12 against the Astros.

“I wouldn’t say (how) I go, we go. We’ve got a lot of individuals on this team that can carry the club,” Judge said. “I’ve got to step up and do my job. I didn’t come up with the big hit, missed a couple the other night. But like I said, we’ve still got a lot of ballgame left in us. Just got to take care of business tomorrow.”

New York is hitting .128 with 41 strikeouts in the series. This from a team that led the majors with 254 homers during the season and finished second in runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I don’t think I’m perplexed about it. It’s just the nature of the game sometimes,” said outfielder Harrison Bader, who made a costly error when he nearly collided with Judge in right-center. “It’s a small sample size.”

Giancarlo Stanton doubled on a 3-0 delivery with one out in the fourth inning — the first hit Javier had allowed in 167 pitches versus the Yankees this year. The 25-year-old righty threw seven innings and struck out 13 in a combined no-hitter by three Houston hurlers at Yankee Stadium on June 25.

This series was supposed to be an entertaining clash between the American League’s preeminent powers, but the Yankees have been no match for Houston pitching.

“They’re not really missing over the big part of the plate a lot,” Rizzo said.

The playoff-proven Astros improved to 8-2 against New York this year, including October. They eliminated the Yankees from the postseason in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and are right on the cusp of doing it again.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone has shuffled his lineup during the series in an attempt to get the offense going. Nothing has worked.

“Obviously, frustrating day. It felt like we had some pitches there with Javier to do some things with and just fouled some pitches off. I thought there were some good at-bats sprinkled in there. But obviously just not able to mount enough,” Boone said. “We just need to get a little bit of a spark and something to bounce our way and try and grab a lead and play with it a little bit.”

As the Astros paraded six pitchers to the mound, New York was in danger of being held to one hit for the first time in its 422-game postseason history before Matt Carpenter and Bader got consecutive singles with two outs in the ninth.

Donaldson then struck out to end it, bringing the last round in a string of boos all day from the scattered fans who remained.

“I think they were booing a lot tonight,” Donaldson said.

Said Judge: “I definitely understand their frustration. … I understand why there’s boos and why there’s yelling at times. We’ve got to pick it up as a team.”

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - United States' Breanna Stewart, right, shoots over China's Zhang Ru during their gold medal ...
Associated Press

Griner’s home, but WNBA players still competing overseas

Brittney Griner is back in the United States after an arduous 10-month saga in Russia. Yet nearly half of her WNBA peers opted to compete abroad this winter to supplement their incomes. None are playing in Russia, for obvious reasons — Griner’s ordeal and the country’s ongoing war with Ukraine — but 67 of the […]
2 days ago
England's head coach Gareth Southgate, left, and Harry Kane speak to the media during a press confe...
Associated Press

England coach lets captain Kane do final World Cup pep talk

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate has nothing to tell his players just before they leave the locker room to play defending champion France in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday. That is his choice, preferring players to take control and citing his own playing experience of managers who could “mess it up” […]
2 days ago
Luka Modric celebrates after Croatia defeated Brazil in a penalty shootout during a World Cup quart...
Associated Press

Modric’s moves help Croatia eliminate Brazil from World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — The slippery hips of Luka Modric wriggled away from danger. The laser-like precision of his passing — and the intelligence to control the tempo for long periods — were ever present, as is usual. There was the customary adjustment of his hairband here, a tug of his captain’s armband there. […]
2 days ago
FILE - A sign on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., is pictured on March 11, 2020...
Associated Press

Students sue Vermont school over response to sex assaults

Three women are suing the University of Vermont, saying the school failed to adequately respond after they reported they had been sexually assaulted while students on the Burlington campus. The civil suit, which is seeking unspecified damages, says that after the three women were sexually assaulted a number of administrators and school staff showed “deliberate […]
2 days ago
People celebrate Morocco's win over Spain in a World Cup match played in Qatar, in Rabat, Morocco, ...
Associated Press

‘Our pride’: Morocco keeps Africa’s hope alive in World Cup

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — For many in Africa, Morocco’s underdog performance is the best story in the World Cup so far, with the hopes of the continent soaring ahead of the match on Saturday against Portugal. Across the continent of more than 1.3 billion people, African fans are excited that Morocco has become the fourth […]
2 days ago
Brazil's Neymar, right, and Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic, left, fight for the ball during the World C...
Associated Press

Neymar ties Pelé’s all-time record with Brazil at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Neymar moved into a tie with Pelé as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals on Friday. The Brazil forward scored in the first half of extra time of his team’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Croatia. Neymar scored with a right-footed shot after getting through the defense and dribbling […]
2 days ago
Judge, slumping Yankees on the brink after getting blanked