Matt Garza’s first start for the Rangers couldn’t have gone much better, as he allowed just an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings to pick up a victory in a 3-1 game against the Yankees on Wednesday.
Garza struck out five and walked none to outshine Andy Pettitte in Pettitte’s best start in six weeks. The left-hander gave up just two runs in six innings. It was the first time since a June 8 victory over the Mariners that Pettitte surrendered fewer than four runs.
Garza has won each of his last six starts dating back to June 21, not giving up more than two runs in any of them. The lone run tonight came after his own error in the sixth. Brett Gardner hit a comebacker that Garza struggled to grab and then threw away. It was ruled an infield single and a two-base throwing error that allowed Gardner to reach third.
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: