Yanks believe Judge will get going at the plate

Rookie outfielder entered Tuesday mired in 2-for-28 skid

Yanks believe Judge will get going at the plate

KANSAS CITY -- By Aaron Judge's count, his three trips to the batter's box on Monday night yielded a grand total of two pitches that he could have done damage with. Both landed in Royals catcher Salvador Perez's glove as called strikes.

After striking out in all three of his at-bats during the Yankees' loss on Monday, twice looking, Judge said that he was able to turn the page quickly. The rookie outfielder proved it in the second inning of Tuesday night's 5-4 win in 10 innings, connecting for his third Major League home run, a two-run shot to left-center field off Edinson Volquez to open the scoring at Kauffman Stadium.

"There's good pitchers in this league, man," Judge said. "They're going to nibble around the strike zone. You might just get one mistake, maybe two mistakes a game. You just can't miss it. In the Minor Leagues, they might make a couple more mistakes, maybe hang a slider or curveball or something. You've just got to capitalize on it."

Since beginning his Major League career with seven hits, including two homers, in his first 18 at-bats, Judge went into a 2-for-28 skid with 16 strikeouts entering Tuesday. The Yankees have said that Judge will continue to play every day in right field; Tuesday marked his 14th start in 16 games.

"The thing is, we believe in him. No one said it was going to be easy," manager Joe Girardi said. "There's a lot of guys who go through this. You go through ups and downs when you're young and we believe he's going to figure it out."

Judge also struggled to open the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before making adjustments against those more experienced pitchers. Though Judge has struck out in a staggering 47.8 percent of his at-bats entering play on Tuesday, Girardi said that he has not seen any signs that it has affected Judge's demeanor.

"I turn the page pretty quickly, from at-bat to at-bat, pitch to pitch," Judge said. "If I miss my pitch, it's time to go out there and battle and grind."

Coming off a hot start in which he and Tyler Austin both homered in their first big league plate appearances, the recent dip in Judge's numbers serves as evidence to him of how special Gary Sanchez -- selected the American League's Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks -- has been.

"It's an adjustment period, but seeing what Gary is doing man, he's just -- I've seen this for years," Judge said. "Gary's been doing this from Double-A, Triple-A and now he's up here to do it on the Big Show. It's fun to watch and fun to be a part of."

Worth noting
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Ben Gamel was named the 2016 International League MVP on Tuesday. The 24-year-old is hitting .309/.366/.422 with six homers, 51 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 115 games with the RailRiders, leading the International League in runs scored (78) while ranking third in hits (148), fifth in steals and sixth in batting average.

"I think people would probably describe him as a gamer. He plays the game hard," Girardi said. "You look at his numbers and he puts up good numbers every year. It doesn't seem to matter if it's a right-hander or a left-hander. He hits left-handers, stays in there well, plays anywhere for you in the outfield. He comes to play."

Gamel was one of four RailRiders to make the IL Postseason All-Star Team, joined by Sanchez, infielder Donovan Solano and Judge. Manager Al Pedrique was named the 2016 International League Manager of the Year, leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to an 84-52 record and a postseason berth.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.