The Orioles have taken the lead over the Yankees in Baltimore. Chris Davis just knocked in two runs with a bases-loaded single off Andy Pettitte in the bottom of the third inning to put the Orioles on the board and give them a 2-1 lead.
Adam Jones followed Davis’ hit with a bleeder that went under the glove of Derek Jeter and into shallow left field, but J.J. Hardy failed to pick up his third base coach and run home. It appears that he thought Jeter made the play. He was also deked by Alex Rodriguez, who made him think the ball was about to be thrown to third base.
Matt Wieters flew out on the next pitch for the final out of the inning, but it could have been a 3-1 lead for the O’s. The Hardy play could loom large in this one.
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: