Aaron Judge, Yankees not living in past, know they ‘got to go through’ Astros to win AL
NEW YORK – Standing near pools of spilled champagne in a deafening postgame celebration, Aaron Judge outlined what had always been the Yankees’ October travelogue.
“You’ve kind of got to go through Houston to get to a World Series,’’ Judge said over the clubhouse din.
A crazy pinstriped journey that began in March has arrived at the AL Championship Series, with the well-rested Houston Astros awaiting the freshly-beer-soaked, high-on-adrenaline Yankees.
And there’s that delicious little subplot about stolen pennants, tainted championships, and the Yankees’ quest to settle a score with the Astros.
Maybe they dished about that on Tuesday night’s charter to Houston, with Game 1 set for Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Yet, after surviving the Cleveland Guardians’ challenge in the AL Division Series, the Yankees declined to emphasize the revenge factor against Houston.
“We’ve got to treat it like any other series,’’ Judge said at Yankee Stadium, after a 5-1 win in Game 5. “(The Astros) have one of the best teams in the game and we’ve got to come in there with our game and take care of business.’’
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The road to Houston
Just to recap, the Yankees were more than bothered when the Astros’ electronic sign stealing scheme came to light.
Houston’s 2017 World Series title came after a seven-game, ALCS victory over the surprising Yankees.
MLB’s investigation into 2017 concluded months after Houston took out the Yankees in a six-game, 2019 ALCS, and Judge said then that the Astros’ 2017 world championship didn’t hold any value for him.
“You cheated,’’ Judge said. “It wasn’t earned.’’
The subject remained touchy this spring, when Astros owner Jim Crane and Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman engaged in a media spat about the severity of Houston’s indiscretion.
Cashman offered that Houston’s scandal was “so illegal and horrific’’ that it was “the only thing that derailed us’’ from a 2017 pennant.
The Astros pointed to the Yankees’ illegal use of their video room in 2015 and 2016 to decode signs, as per MLB’s findings, during a Wild West period of electronics in baseball.
“It’s done now”
After Jose Altuve’s pennant-winning homer off Aroldis Chapman in 2019, the Yankees weren’t convinced that Houston’s illegal sign-stealing had yet ceased.
“If you’re stuck in the past, you’re not going to go anywhere,’’ said Judge on Tuesday, generally avoiding the revenge theme. “Focus on what we can do today and keep moving forward.’’
Immediately, that means dealing with presumptive AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander in Game 1.
“He’s been doing this for a long time and he’s going to the Hall of Fame,’’ said Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, Verlander’s teammate on the ’19 Astros. “Hopefully, we play a really complete game and that’ll give us our best chance to win.’’
Houston dominated the Yankees over the 2022 regular season, taking five of seven games.
“It’s done now, that’s who our opponent is,’’ Cole said. “And we just have to take care of business.’’
Rocking and rolling
If there was any take-that on the Yanks’ minds Tuesday, it was getting back at Josh Naylor for his “rock-the-baby’’ home run trot in Game 4 against Cole.
“A little disrespectful,’’ said Gleyber Torres, who did the “rock-the-baby’’ move after he recorded the final putout, ending Cleveland’s season.
“We won tonight,’’ Torres said. “And that is the revenge’’ against Naylor and the Guardians. “Nothing personal, just about our team.’’
Going into Houston, “the only thing we’re thinking about his getting to a World Series,’’ said Kyle Higashioka, the longest tenured Yankee.
“They’re the next team that’s in the way…they were the best team in the American League this year, record wise, so obviously it’s going to be really tough.
“We just have to beat them.’’
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Yankees vs. Astros: Aaron Judge not thinking scandal in ALCS
Source: Yahoo Sports