By Lenn Robbins
If you’re an MLB pitcher about to face Aaron Judge, here’s the truly scary part of his assault on opposing hurlers.
It’s not that he hit a home run in five straight games, the first Yankee to do so since Alex Rodriguez in 2007, when he won MVP. Nor is it his 1.275 OPS, a testament to how well a man standing 6-foot-7 manages the strike zone.
No, the scariest part is Judge being in agreement with his manager Aaron Boone.
“Not locked in yet,” Judge said after lifting the Yankees to a 9-7 win and three-game sweep of the Red Sox. “Still trying to find it. That’s the daily grind of baseball, searching for that locked-in feeling. I’m feeling good.”
Not locked in yet?!
At his present pace Judge will hit 45 home runs in this 60-game season. What in the heck does locked in look like?
“Locked in, for me, is if I’m going 5 for 5 every night,” Judge said. “I still got out a couple times, chased a couple pitches. There’s some times when I’m not really locked in. For me right now, it’s not about missing my pitch. …When they leave one over the plate, I’ve got to do some damage on it.”
Damage. His game-winning two-run homer Sunday night traveled 468 feet. He hit one 495 feet in 2017, so, yeah, he’s not locked in.
The home run streak came to end Monday night in the Yankees 6-3 win over the Phillies. Judge didn’t go 5-for-5. He went 2-for-4, lifting his average to .314. He just got under a Jake Arrieta pitch in the fifth that Judge would like to have back. That could have extended the home run streak to six games.
What makes Judge’s tear so remarkable is where he has come from. Back in March he suffered a stress fracture to his first right rib and a collapsed lung. Had this season started on time Judge would not have been good to go.
“I really think he’s on a mission now,” Boone said. “When he got that clean bill of health in summer camp, he started ramping up.”
The Yankees extended their win streak to seven straight and improved their MLB-best record to 8-1. A home run would have tied Judge with Roger Maris and Lou Gehrig in the Yankees record book for homers in six straight, pretty heady company for a player in his fourth season.
Just remember. Judge is not locked in – yet. And there’s a lot of season left.