Aaron Judge on Yankees' Recent Struggles: 'You Never Want to Peak Too Early'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 13, 2022

Aaron Judge (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge said there's "work to do" amid a skid that's seen the club lose nine of its past 11 games.

Judge crushed his MLB-leading 46th home run of the season Friday night, but the Yanks still suffered their third straight defeat in a 3-2 loss to the rival Boston Red Sox.

"You can go around this whole room, I think every guy could speak up and say they need to pick it up a little bit, including myself," Judge told reporters. "If we lean on each other, start picking each other up and have each others' backs, we're going to be in a good spot down the stretch."

The four-time All-Star stopped well short of pressing the panic button, however, pointing to the team's spot atop the AL East standings.

"We're in first place, that's where we want to be," Judge said. "But you never want to peak too early. All these games, all these situations, big moments on the road—it's just getting us ready for games down the stretch and in the postseason where we'll be playing games like this against tough opponents. So we're not where we want to be, but I think that's a good thing. We've got a lot of work to do."

The Yankees were the league's best team prior to the All-Star break with a 64-28 record that was three games better than any other club.

They haven't been able to maintain that pace in the season's second half, though. They've gone 7-14 since the break, and three of those wins came against the Kansas City Royals, who are 20 games under .500.

On Monday, New York manager Aaron Boone said he called a team meeting to reset the focus on trying to chase down a World Series title.

"We got together today and spoke and talked. Just more kind of dust settling from the trade deadline, people coming and going a little bit, wanted to get the group together and talk to them, so I did that," Boone told reporters. "Just [wanted] to remind them that we got everything in that room to get through this and realize the goal to being a champion—that is where the focus lies and is."

It hasn't sparked an immediate resurgence as the Yanks have gone 1-3 since the meeting.

In the bigger picture, the Yankees still feature one of the most talented rosters in baseball, especially with Judge playing on a level above pretty much everyone else. His 46 homers are 12 more than anyone else.

Several players who were key to their first-half success, including ace Gerrit Cole, closer Clay Holmes and infielder Gleyber Torres, have struggled since the break, and the club has also dealt with injuries to outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter.

New York holds a 10-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the division, so it still has a fair amount of cushion as it awaits players returning to form and coming back from the IL.

The question is whether the first-half Yankees will return before the playoffs. If so, they'll be among the top-tier championship contenders come October.


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