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Might as well call Judge Mr. October

Leslie Monteiro

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This isn’t hyperbole anymore. This isn’t even hype. At some point, we have to call it for what it is.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has carved his name as one of those folklore figures that delivers in October. It’s become a sure bet when he is at the plate. He has certainly made a name for himself.

He did it again on Saturday night. This time, it was Boston Red Sox starter and Yankees punching bag David Price that was the victim of Judge’s postseason home run binge. It was the second home run by the Yankees slugger in the American League Division Series, his third home run in this year’s postseason and his fifth home run in his postseason career.

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Judge’s home run gave the Yankees an 1-0 lead in the first inning, and it would set the tone in their 6-2 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park to even the best-of-five series at 1 heading to Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

It was quite a response the Yankees needed from their star player in a game that Brett Gardner termed a must-win after taking a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS Friday night. This was leadership at its finest from a star player. This is the type of moment that will eventually have him be the captain of the team sooner rather than later. It’s the type of memories that he is creating for himself.

As soon as he homered, he took the life out of the boisterous crowd at Fenway Park. Red Sox fans know the impact he can make in a game. They also know that Price would eventually implode at first sign of trouble.

It was a short night for the beleaguered Red Sox lefty. The Yankees tagged him for couple of more runs in the second inning, and that was the end of his night as he exited to a chorus of boos. Red Sox manager Alex Cora took him out as an act of mercy rather than self-preservation. Plus, who could blame him for not wanting to watch a horror show from his struggling starter?

Judge made such an impact in so many ways. He may have changed the momentum of the series to the point the Red Sox may have played their last home game of the season if the Yankees can win the next two games. He might have as well put an end to Price’s career in Boston since it would be hard for the Red Sox and their fans to ever trust him ever again in a postseason game and in a game against the Yankees. He may have forced the Red Sox to walk him rather than pitch to him.

Outside of Chris Sale, it’s hard to think anyone from the Red Sox can get him out.

The Yankees star has five home runs and 10 RBI in his last seven playoff games. It does not get any better than that. Even Reggie Jackson has to admire that, and he was named Mr. October for his work in the postseason as a Yankee.

Watching Judge brings a reminder of the late Kirby Puckett when he would step up in the playoffs for the Minnesota Twins in 1991. The Twins don’t win a championship in 1991 without his ability to shine in pressure situations.

The Yankees have a shot to win a championship now and beyond because of Judge. He brings a fear of God to pitchers when he is out there at the plate. It has gotten to the point where teams are going to have to stop pitching to him and let someone else beat him. He is hard to get out.

For the Red Sox’ sake, they were fortunate that he hit a solo home run off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning rather than a two-run home run in Game 1 of the ALDS because it was meaningless. If he hit a home run with runners on base in the eighth inning, the Yankees may have led. Getting Andrew McCutchen to make the last out in that inning and having Judge start the ninth inning was a win for the Red Sox, and that might have been the turning point of the game right there.

Judge is going to have to keep providing heroic moments for the Yankees. It seems like he is the only one up for the task with the moment being too big for Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Giancarlo Stanton. It doesn’t seem like this is going to be a problem for him with the way he is going right now.

If there is something interesting about this Yankees team, it’s Judge. Everyone is asking for more out of him because he finds a way. The drawback of all this is that he sets the bar so high that people will become spoiled.

Nothing galvanizes fans more than a player stepping up in a pressure situation. Judge is certainly making an impression not only to Yankees fans, but even haters that hate the Yankees. Greatness brings everyone together. What Judge is doing is fun to watch.

His three home runs this postseason has been the story of the postseason in Major League Baseball.

There’s more where it came from.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.