This is why Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton terrified Rays

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash knew his team had received some fortunate timing when it played the Yankees during the regular season.

The Rays beat the Yankees eight out of 10 games, but Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton had played in only seven combined games.

Both are healthy for the postseason and they showed the damage they can do in Monday’s 9-3 win over the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Each went deep, with Judge hitting a go-ahead homer in the fifth and Stanton ending the drama with a grand slam in the ninth.

“The best way I look at it is, you always know where Aaron Judge is in the lineup,’’ Cash said before the game. “I compare it to Mookie Betts when he was in Boston.”

Now, Betts is in Los Angeles with the Dodgers and the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East. Judge and Stanton are hitting homers basically every game.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees beat the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Aaron Judge and the Yankees beat the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Corey Sipkin

“That was huge to come out like we did, wearing their pitchers down the whole game,’’ Stanton said.

And he expects more of the same the rest of the series.

“That was big-time,’’ Stanton said of the lineup’s performance in Game 1. “That was definitely what we needed to do. … We’ll enjoy this for a little bit, but we’ve got work to do.”

Stanton has now homered in all three playoff games this season, which he attributed to “having good at-bats,’’ but he admitted the ninth-inning slam was special.

“That was really cool,” Stanton said. “I can’t deny that. The spot I helped put the team in, you don’t want to take your foot off the gas. Up by [two] compared to six is a huge difference.”

Much like the difference between Stanton’s postseason compared to a year ago, when he was still battling injuries. This season, he missed time with a hamstring strain and was in the lineup just three times and had been 2-for-7 with a homer in three games versus the Rays.

Now, he’s living up to expectations.

“He struggled [last year in the playoffs] just because he hasn’t been healthy,’’ Aaron Boone said. “This is what I envisioned for him last year. … He’s such a dangerous hitter in the middle of the lineup. Now he’s locked back in the playoffs. When he’s controlling the strike zone, he’s as deadly as anyone.”