Don't you dare make a mistake when pitching to Aaron Judge or he'll punish you by hitting the ball a long, long way. Trevor Bauer knew he'd have to be very, very careful with the Yankees slugger in the Indians' 4-0 win in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday.
With the Indians leading, 4-0, in the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees had a runner at third with two outs when Judge stepped to the plate. After Bauer fell behind in the count, 2-0, he grooved a fastball down the heart of the plate to make the count 2-1. In hindsight, Judge should have swung.
After Bauer got Judge to then whiff on a cutter outside, the count was evened up at 2-2. It was time to go back to Bauer's 12-6 curve. Though Roberto Perez was looking for the ball low and away, Bauer's pitch worked out pretty well. With Judge perhaps expecting a pitch outside, the ball looped over the inside corner of the plate for a called strike three.
You can't do much better than that.
It was all part of a flawlessly executed game plan from Bauer as he used a mix of five pitches and threw plenty of curves. The right-hander -- a controversial pick to start Game 1 over Corey Kluber -- proved Terry Francona right as he pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up just two hits, while striking out eight.
The teams will be back at it for Game 2 of the ALDS presented by Doosan on Friday at 5:00 p.m. ET on MLB Network.