By Dan Martin
Maybe getting back to The Bronx will do Aaron Judge some good as his fantastic first few games are fading into the distance.
The towering rookie right fielder appeared ready to live up to every lofty expectation when he had five hits — including two homers and a double — in his first three major league games.
Since then, it’s been a far different story.
And while Joe Girardi has become fond of pointing out that not every rookie is Gary Sanchez, Judge’s recent dropoff has been steep.
In his last seven games — keeping in mind he’s appeared in a total of 10 in his major league career — Judge is 3-for-26. Perhaps most alarmingly, he’s struck out 13 times in that stretch, while walking only twice. And of those three hits, none was for extra bases.
One scout who watched Judge over parts of the past two seasons at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre said the 24-year-old is displaying the streakiness he showed frequently in the minors.
“It’s no secret he’s vulnerable to breaking balls, and teams are making the adjustments he’s forced them to make,” the scout said. “This would be expected from any rookie, especially one that’s been inconsistent in the past. He’s a confident kid and always come out of these things before, so I think he will again.”
On Sunday, Judge had three strikeouts for the first time, but still managed to see a team-high 22 pitches, impressing Girardi with his patience.
Having Sanchez around isn’t just helping the Yankees on the field. It’s also helping business.
Sanchez’s home run binge began in earnest toward the end of the most recent homestand, when he homered four times in the last four games before the Yankees went to the West Coast.
He returns with nine home runs and as the focal point of the New York sports world.
Perhaps that’s why tickets for Friday’s series opener against Baltimore are listed at an average of $126.78, the highest for a game since Alex Rodriguez’s finale on Aug. 12, according to TiqIQ, a company that monitors the secondary ticket market.
Only the series against the Red Sox at the end of September has higher prices.
The Yankees will again turn to unheralded rookie Luis Cessa to take the mound in an important game on Friday, and they hope he can deliver as well as he did his last time out against the Angels in his first major league start.
In Anaheim, Cessa tossed six scoreless innings in a 5-1 win. He is set to be followed by another rookie, Chad Green, on Saturday.
The good news for Aaron Hicks? He went 7-for-14 with a walk on the recent road trip. Unfortunately for the Yankees, all seven of those hits were singles and he didn’t drive in any runs. Still, he’s gotten his OPS up to .597, the highest it’s been since late June.