It’s always something, I guess. On a night when the Yankees moribund offense actually goes out and scores some runs, the team’s ace doesn’t show. CC Sabathia gave up seven runs on nine hits in five innings. After the game he minced no words:
“I suck. I wish I had an excuse or something. It sucks. It’s embarrassing. But you have to try to work through it, figure something out and start trying to help this team instead of hurting it.”
And, bafflingly, he has been hurting his team this year. His ERA is now up to 4.37 and he has been giving up a lot more homers than usual.
I don’t think it’s time to really freak yet. His strikeout rate is down a tad from the past couple of years but it’s within normal career parameters for him. He’s striking out 7.7 batters per nine innings now. He did that or a tad worse when he won 19 games in 2009 and 21 games in 2010. He can be effective in that zone. And he’s walking fewer batters than he has in five years.
But he’s certainly not himself. And in a season when an awful lot has gone wrong for the Yankees, he needs to be his old self if they have any shot of hanging with Boston, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
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: