Yankees Aaron Judge breaks out of mini-slump: Swinging underwater

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Aaron Judge felt like he had been “swinging underwater” lately, so he came up for air Thursday for a big day at the plate.

The Yankees outfielder went 3-for-3 with a double, home run, two walks and two RBIs to spark an 8-1 win over the Royals at Yankee Stadium. He reached base five times for the third time in his career, snapping out of a mini-slump that he had been in since hitting his last home run on June 9.

“Feeling good,” Judge said. “Making a couple adjustments to get my body in a better position to swing. I’ve kind of been feeling like I’ve been swinging underwater. But I was seeing the ball well.”

Judge still entered the day as the Yankees’ most productive and consistent batter this season, but he had not quite been himself of late. In 10 games before Thursday, he was hitting 9-for-44 (.205) with no home runs, a .483 OPS and 22 strikeouts.

But after watching video of his recent at-bats Wednesday night, he came into the series finale with a plan and executed it.

“[I was] just pulling off a lot of pitches,” Judge said. “I was basically striding at the third baseman. When you do that, you really cut yourself off in your swing. Today I tried to focus on striding more towards the pitcher, more towards the second baseman. Even though I might not have been, my mindset was that, which helped me stay more towards right-center which keeps me on those off-speed pitches and helps me hit those fastballs to right field.”

Judge’s first-inning home run and sixth-inning double to the gap both went to right field. His second-inning single, which drove in a run, was his hardest hit of the day, coming off the bat at 109.3 mph.

That gave him a shot at the cycle in his final at-bat in the eighth inning, which Judge said he wasn’t aware of until a fan told him in the outfield during the seventh inning. Instead he walked and came around to score for the third time on Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single.

“It would have been nice, but I like adding another run there,” Judge said.

Judge credited Gary Sanchez’s red-hot presence behind him as key to getting good pitches to hit, and he didn’t miss them on Thursday.

“Really good to see him come out and have that kind of day,” manager Aaron Boone said, “and really set the tone for us offensively.”

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