Justin Morneau is back in the Twins’ lineup, coming off the disabled list slightly ahead of schedule following neck surgery six weeks ago.
Morneau sped up his return timetable by going 11-for-30 (.367) with a homer and four doubles in seven games at Triple-A, reportedly texting various Twins decision-makers to tell them he wanted back in the lineup before next week.
Morneau hasn’t played since June 9 and hasn’t played well since suffering a concussion 13 months ago, as the former MVP missed the second half of last season and then hit just .225 with four homers and a .619 OPS in 55 games this year.
With his return the Twins are basically fully healthy for the first time since early April, but unfortunately all the injuries combined with some sub par performances from key players leaves Minnesota with very slim playoff hopes even in a terrible division. Morneau showing he’s healthy and putting up some big numbers down the stretch would be a nice consolation prize, though.
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: