Felipe Lopez was pulled from last night’s game against the Blue Jays after failing to run out a ground ball in the 11th inning. It’s the second time this week that Lopez didn’t hustle to first base.
Rays manager Joe Maddon tells Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Lopez is benched for today’s game as a form of punishment, but that the matter is resolved.
“He was great,” Maddon said. “I explained to him everything, he understood, he was not upset. I just want him to understand that’s how we do things here, and I’ve talked to him about it before. For us to be repeat AL East champs we’ve got to play the game a certain way, and that’s it.”
This is actually the second time Lopez has been benched by Maddon. He also took a seat after flipping his bat in the direction of the mound following a home run off White Sox left-hander Chris Sale on April 9.
Lopez has a history of wearing out his welcome pretty much everywhere he goes, hence him being forced to take a minor league deal this winter, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets the boot once Evan Longoria returns from the disabled list.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: