Judge, Sanchez reward Girardi's faith in Game 4
"I think he's extremely talented. You can look at numbers and say he's not hitting for average," Girardi said of Judge following Game 3, "but I know how dangerous he is. He can change a game really quick."
"I've never changed anything from day one; it worked during the regular season, so why would I come change anything during the postseason?" Judge asked minutes later when queried about his slump. "Even though I'm struggling, it's six or seven games. You have to take the ups with the downs."
Girardi's confidence paid off in spades in Game 4's comeback win, as it was Judge (solo homer) and Sanchez (sacrifice fly) who cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-2 in the seventh, and one inning later, it was Judge's RBI double that tied the game and Sanchez's two-run double that gave the Yankees the lead.
Two men, two innings, two plate appearances each, and five runs they had a direct hand in producing.
"This just continues giving them confidence," Girardi said. "You look up and down the board in other series, and you see many guys struggling. It's such a small sample size, and I think our guys have done a good job not getting caught up in it. You're seeing the best pitching staffs, great starters and strong bullpens, and it's one at-bat at a time. Those guys came up big tonight."
Big especially for Sanchez, who was 0-for his previous 18 going back to the ALDS before that go-ahead double, and was given a "mental day off" as the DH in Game 4 for several reasons.
"Sometimes that can help, but I think he's just a good hitter who was due to bust out," Girardi said of his catcher. "We've witnessed how good of a hitter he is, and I've seen Hall of Famers struggle in a series or two in the playoffs; it's just part of the game, but I knew eventually it was going to turn for him."
"I never thought about being 0-for-18 or put any pressure on myself regarding that," Sanchez added. "I just kept working hard and doing my job. I got my first hit tonight, and hopefully they keep coming."
Regardless of what the immediate future holds, Yankees faithful who were waiting for a signature moment from perhaps the next dynamic duo may have gotten it in Game 4.
"It's tough to describe to be honest; the fans were going crazy, and I didn't know what to do when I crossed home plate," Judge said of scoring the go-ahead run on Sanchez's double. "That's why we play this game, for a moment like that."
The postseason has been all about redemption for the Yankees; redemption in the Wild Card Game for Luis Severino, redemption in the ALDS for Girardi, and now, maybe, redemption for Judge and Sanchez in the first half of the ALDS.
With nemesis Dallas Keuchel, who has thrown 13 scoreless innings in two postseason starts against the Yankees and holds a 1.41 regular-season ERA against them, set to pitch for Houston in Game 5, Girardi would love to see the Bombers get one more monkey off their backs on Wednesday.
"We haven't done a whole lot off him in the starts we've seen him," Girardi said, "but hopefully, seeing him twice in one series, our guys are able to adjust a little quicker."