'It's the Bronx, man': Aaron Judge hears some boos amid struggles in Yankees' Game 2 loss

Pete Caldera

NEW YORK – One big swing by Aaron Judge could have wiped out a frustrating day, not just for the Yankees’ slugger but nearly the entire lineup.

Yet, when Judge struck out for the fourth time … were those really boos?

“It’s the Bronx, man,’’ said manager Aaron Boone, after the Cleveland Guardians evened the best-of-five AL Division Series with a 4-2, 10-inning win at Yankee Stadium.

“This isn’t anything new to us,’’ Judge said as the series moves to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 this weekend, with momentum suddenly shifted toward Lake Erie. 

“Have a little short-term memory on this and get ready for (Saturday)’’ at Progressive Field.

Recap:Guardians rally past Yankees in extra innings to take Game 2, even up ALDS

Watch:Phillies' Rhys Hoskins celebrates home run vs. Braves with epic bat spike

Aaron Judge: 0-for-5

Maybe a 62-homer regular season doesn’t buy as much patience in October as you’d expect.

But these were more frustrated groans than outright boos by 47,535 fans who watched the AL’s most elite closer, Emmanuel Clase, nail down the final seven outs.

Judge was fanned three times by starter Shane Bieber and was one of Trevor Stephan’s four strikeout victims in four batters faced. 

In the ninth, with the fans back on their feet, Clase got Judge on a harmless groundout.

“I’ve got to play better, that’s what it comes down to,’’ Judge said. “Especially as a leadoff hitter, I’ve got to get on base, make something happen.’’

Time and timing

Friday was just the Yanks’ second game in nine days, a period extended by Thursday’s rainout.

But even before Friday’s game, Boone wasn’t buying any reasons for his club to come out flat. Judge wasn’t going there either but admitted to being “just a little late’’ with his timing.

“You miss some pitches that you can do damage on, you’re swinging at stuff you usually don’t,’’ Judge said. “I think it’s just mechanics.’’

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge reacts after striking out during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Guardians.

Over the first two ALDS games, Judge is 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts and a walk, alarming for a short series but “I’ve had two bad games in my career multiple times,’’ Judge said.

“It’s on me, timing’s a little off, and I’ve got to fix it. That’s really what it comes down to, no excuses here.’’

Judge can’t do it alone

Runs were going to be hard to come by, but you knew that about a Cleveland Guardians lineup that hardly lit up scoreboards across the league this year.

And then, you’re reminded these current Yankees aren’t exactly Murderers Row.

After Giancarlo Stanton’s first inning fly ball carried over the right field wall for a signature Stadium two-run homer, the Yankees went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.

Do they ever miss DJ LeMahieu atop the order, and the balance he provides when healthy.

They’re compelled to bat Judge leadoff and they’re starting a pure rookie in left field (Oswaldo Cabrera went 0-for-4) because Andrew Benintendi is in Florida, recovering from a hamate fracture.

They’ve got the wildly inconsistent Josh Donaldson, in a down year offensively, batting No. 5, with Matt Carpenter only available as a pinch-hitter, coming back from a fractured foot.

In his first at-bat since Aug. 8, Carpenter struck out with runners at first and second to end the sixth.

Pitching questions

There are zero off dates left in this series, and bullpen management could be an issue going forward.

In Game 2, the Yankees used six relievers, but none threw more than 18 pitches – potentially giving Boone a full complement if needed in Game 3.

And he didn't fire Domingo German, who might be asked to throw multiple innings after Game 3 starter Luis Severino.

And if there’s a Game 5 in the Bronx on Monday, maybe Jameson Taillon starts that winner-take-all game for the Yanks. Or maybe he's thrust back in a high leverage relief spot, a brand-new role and one that didn't go well Friday.

Summoned in Friday’s 10th inning, Taillon gave up two bloop hits and watched Donaldson commit a throwing error before Josh Naylor’s RBI long double plated the inning’s second run.

"Thought I had a chance'' to nail Jose Ramirez at second, Donaldson said of his errant throw that allowed Ramirez to take third to open the 10th. "At the end of the day, I was trying to make a play. I can live with that.''

With his filthy, power stuff, Clase showed why he's the class of the AL, getting the Guardians out of a bases-loaded spot to end the eighth and dominating from there.

Nestor Cortes not as Nasty

As Boone said in explaining the not-just-Judge's-fault Yankee offense, "nothing's been easy for us this year, espeically in the second half of the season.''

Meanwhile, Cleveland has had its struggles rallying for runs.

In capturing the Wild Card Series, Cleveland scored three runs in two games over 24 innings against Tampa Bay.

The Guardians had one run over the first 12 innings of this ALDS, and they scored twice against Cortes, who was not quite his best Friday.

Andres Gimenez’s soft, two-out RBI single in the fourth was followed in the fifth by Amed Rosario’s game-tying homer to center, a ball that just kept carrying out.

"They had some patient at-bats,'' said Cortes, who did not break out any odd-angle deliveries in Game 2.

His best throw came from the seat of his pants, a one-hopper to first base that ended the fourth inning with the bases loaded, following a leaping snare of a Myles Straw high-hop comebacker.