Yankees' 6-foot-7 phenom keeps Game 3 scoreless in 6th
By Bill Ladson
NEW YORK -- Two nights after disaster struck the Yankees in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, Francisco Lindor came to the plate in same inning of a tense, scoreless Game 3 on Sunday night with Roberto Perez on first base and one out.
The Indians' shortstop, who crushed a key grand slam in Game 2, appeared to have dealt the Yankees another blow, sending a high drive to right field on a 1-1 pitch from Yanks starter Masahiro Tanaka that backed right fielder Aaron Judge to the wall.
But the 6-foot-7 slugger used every inch of his height, extended his glove above the wall and stole what would have been a home run, keeping the score tied and in a game the Yankees beat the Tribe, 1-0, to push the ALDS to a Game 4.
"I had to do something. I wasn't making any contact at the plate," said Judge, who is 0-for-10 with eight strikeouts in the series. "I had to make an impact in the game somehow."
It was the first time Judge had stolen a home run, and the first time Lindor has had one stolen away.
"This is Lindor. You never know what he is going to do," Judge said. "He has a lot of pop. He put the barrel on the ball. When it went up in the air, I started going back and I thought I had a little bit of room. But once I felt the wall. I gave it a six-inch jump. I was able to get it."
Lindor didn't think the ball was going out of the park because he hit it off the end of his bat. His fly ball had just a 14 percent hit probability -- according to Statcast™ -- though it would have been enough, without Judge, to clear the wall.
"It was a pitch low and away. I didn't think I had it," Lindor said. "For a second, I was like, 'Aw, it's popped up.' But then I saw it was carrying. That's when you start hoping, you know, you're like, 'Please, go, go.' But Judge made a good play on it."
Tanaka followed up Judge's grab by inducing a shallow fly from Jason Kipnis to end the inning. To Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Judge's catch was pivotal.
"A great catch, ends up saving the game," Girardi said. "I've said all along about Aaron Judge, he's a complete player. It's not just a home run hitter. [He is] a guy [who] runs the bases ... plays very good defense and drives in a ton of runs and is extremely productive as a hitter."
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.