Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees back into ALCS with 8-1 routBy LARRY FLEISHER
The Sports Xchange
October 17. 2017 2:23AM
NEW YORK -- In the top of the fourth inning Monday, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge raced back on a fly ball by Yuli Gurriel, crashed into the wall, held on and prevented the Houston Astros from doing some significant damage.
In the bottom of the inning, Judge hit a ball that nobody could catch.
Judge made an outstanding grab and highlighted a five-run inning with a three-run homer as theYankees beat the Astros 8-1 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
The Astros lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
Judge ensured Houston would not be going for the sweep by producing defensively and offensively.
With the Yankees already holding a 3-0 lead after Todd Frazier's three-run homer in the second inning off Charlie Morton, Gurriel lofted a 2-0 pitch to deep right field. Judge raced back, made a slight leap, and the 6-foot-7 rookie crashed into the wall headfirst and held on while falling on the warning track.
"It was an awesome catch," New York shortstop Didi Gregorius said. "I'm surprised he jumped."
Yankees starter CC Sabathia (1-0) turned and watched the ball sail toward the fence. When Judge completed the catch, Sabathia raised both arms in the air to express his excitement at a potential home run being taken away.
"That was just a great play," Sabathia said. "Off the bat, here with the short right field (porch), I didn't know what the result was going to be, but for him to go up and go all out and make that catch was unbelievable."
Judge made four catches overall, including a diving grab on Cameron Maybin to start the fifth, but it was his leap against the wall that had his teammates gushing about his defense.
It also was his second highlight-reel catch of the postseason. In Game 3 of the AL Division Series, Judge made a leaping grab on Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor to take away a certain two-run homer in a game the Yankees won 1-0.
"That's what we want," Frazier said. "That's what every teammate wants to see. As a pitcher, you dream of that kind of stuff, and he's been doing that all year."
After making the catch on Gurriel, Judge hit a 2-2 fastball from reliever Will Harris into the left field seats, giving the Yankees an 8-0 lead. It was his second homer of the postseason after he hit 52 in the regular season. The hit was just Judge's fifth of the playoffs.
"I know how dangerous he is," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "He can change a game really quickly."
Before Judge connected, the Yankees extended the lead to 4-0 on an infield single by Chase Headley and made it 5-0 when Frazier scored on a wild pitch by Harris during Judge's at-bat.
"I was just trying to see a cutter up in the zone," Judge said. "I think the bases were loaded before that and then (a) wild pitch and we scored, but, yeah, just try to get a pitch up and do some damage."
Judge's eventful fourth helped Sabathia, who delivered his first career scoreless postseason start. In six innings, Sabathia allowed three hits, worked around four walks, struck out five and threw 99 pitches.
"It was his night," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "He played defense tonight. He did a lot of things well for them and really was a big difference in the game."
The biggest pitch Sabathia threw occurred in the third when the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single in the third. The left-hander escaped by getting Carlos Correa on a popup to Gregorius.
The Astros barely avoided being shut out for the fourth time in a postseason game, scoring their lone run on a bases-loaded walk by Alex Bregman in the ninth.
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were a combined 1-for-8 after going 8-for-15 in the first two games of the series.
"CC was really good tonight because he didn't make a lot of mistakes," Hinch said. "We swung a little bit to the margins on the outside of the strike zone."
After Houston got dominant starts from Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander in the first two games, Morton (0-1) struggled through 3 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on six hits.
NOTES: New York RHP Luis Severino was not sent for tests after exiting Game 2 after four innings for precautionary reasons. The Yankees thought he might have a shoulder injury when he was taken out, but he is on track to start Game 6 if necessary. ... RHP Lance McCullers Jr. will start Game 4 for Houston against Yankees RHP Sonny Gray. ... Houston bench coach Alex Cora is reportedly interviewing for the vacant New York Mets managerial opening Tuesday. He interviewed for the Boston Red Sox's managerial opening on Monday. ... Chase Headley's single in the fourth inning was the first hit by a Yankees designated hitter in the postseason. It ended an 0-for-28 skid in this year's postseason. ... Former Yankees CF Bernie Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch.