Yankees drop struggling Aaron Judge to No. 2 in lineup

CLEVELAND -- For one game at least, Aaron Judge's time as the Yankees' leadoff hitter is over.

Judge was penciled into the No. 2 slot for the Yankees in the pregame lineup turned in by manager Aaron Boone for Game 3 of New York's ALDS series against the Guardians on Saturday.

Boone said he is merely trying to change things up.

"I just wanted to flip that and it's something I woke up to," Boone said before the game. "[Judge] has hit a lot of second in his career, and just wanted to shake that up a little bit."

The change was made after Judge started the series in a 0-for-8 slump that including seven strikeouts over two games. The series is tied 1-1 entering the pivotal third contest at Progressive Field. Second baseman Gleyber Torres batted first in the revamped lineup.

On Saturday, Judge homered in the top of the 3rd inning, a two-run shot that went 449 feet and tied the game at 2.

Perhaps baseball's preeminent power hitter, Judge is a non-traditional hitter to say the least. He batted in the leadoff slot 34 times during the regular season, hitting a robust .366 with 13 homers in that role. The frequency with which he appeared in that slot increased as the season progressed, generating a few extra plate appearances for Judge during his successful chase of the American League home run record. Judge was batting leadoff on Oct. 4, when he hit his record-breaking 62nd homer, breaking a tie with Roger Maris.

Injuries to DJ LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi played into the decision to use Judge in the leadoff spot, but overall the Yankees went 23-11 with him batting first.

LeMahieu and Benintendi are still injured and New York struggled to score against a formidable Guardians pitching staff over the first two games, at least in part to Judge's slow start to the series.

"I think he's just a tick off, timing wise," Boone said. "I'm looking forward to him going out there and stringing some good ABs together."

Torres hit .257 with a .310 on-base percentage during the regular season. He started three games in the leadoff slot, going 4-for-12.

Torres went 2-for-8 during the first two games against Cleveland, hitting third in both contests. After Judge, Anthony Rizzo will bat third in Game 3, followed by Giancarlo Stanton at cleanup, an indication that those two sluggers are rounding into shape after recent injury woes of their own.

"As a team right now, we're just a little more whole than we were 10 days ago, where I feel like Giancarlo was still working his way back, Rizzo to a degree was kind of working his way back," Boone said.