Kansas City activated Yuniesky Betancourt from the disabled list and he’s starting at second base tonight against the A’s. Not only that, he’s batting second in the lineup.
Because why wouldn’t you want a swing-at-everything hitter with a .293 career on-base percentage setting the table, right? Or something.
Betancourt has been out since May 1 with an ankle injury. Chris Getz initially filled in for him at second base, but then he got hurt as well and the Royals turned to 28-year-old career minor leaguer Irving Falu along with 24-year-old prospect Johnny Giavotella.
Falu was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Betancourt’s return and, knowing manager Ned Yost, it’ll be a while before Giavotella sees regular starts at second base again.
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: