The Yankees are healthy, and despite going 2-8 against their division rivals, they are ready for their first postseason matchup with Tampa.
“We’re a confident team…when we got a full lineup, everyone’s healthy, and they’re in there, we got something special here in New York…It’s a scary lineup when everyone’s full-go,” said Judge.
“We’re a lot healthier, these games are a lot more meaningful,” said Voit. “They have good pitching and they figured out ways to score runs against us, you gotta give them credit, but I think we’re a lot different team than when we faced them during the regular season, and I feel good about us. We got a really tough lineup, and I think we’re gonna do a lot of damage against them.”
Judge said he is looking forward to facing off against left-hander Blake Snell in Game 1.
“Blake Snell’s an incredible pitcher…He’s the ace of that staff, great competitor…You love competing against guys like that,” he said. “He’s gonna go out there and lay it on the line, give it his all every single outing, and he’s gonna have fun doping it. Same with me, I’ma go out there and do my best, lay it all on the line, and we’re gonna have some fun.”
Voit added that facing a familiar foe takes some stress off.
“I’ve faced Snell, [Tyler] Glasnow, [Charlie] Morton, all those guys probably 15, 20 times. It’s nice going in knowing that so you’re not kind of blown away that you don’t know.”
But the slugging first baseman still thinks the Bombers have the advantage.
“But we gotta go out there and obviously try to get the lead in Game 1, and obviously we got trust in Gerrit [Cole],” he said.
The Rays have one of the better pitching staffs in baseball – their 3.58 ERA was the third-best in the majors.
“They just got a lot of good arms down there. A lot of good guys that can get it upper 90s, got good breaking pitches that they throw in the zone…You really can’t sell out to their fastball or sell out on the breaking ball. They can throw either pitch in the zone at any time, so that makes it tough at times,” Judge said.
Judge has been in October ball before – he has nine homers in 29 postseason games, so it’s safe to say he liked the pressure, which he called a “privilege.”
“I think that’s what makes this team so special,” Judge said. “We’re not running from those pressure situations….We’re embracing them, and we’re enjoying them, because we earned it…
“I believe in what we have here, the pitching staff we have, the lineup we have. Like I said, I felt we’ve always had something special every since Spring Training…We got a special opportunity here…It’s just about when the game starts, it’s time to play ball.
“We struggled this year [against the Rays], but we also played them in really close games, and we had their number last year, too,” said Voit. “And that’s when we had all of our guys playing well. I’m not worried about it.
“They’re just another road block for us, so we gotta go out there and get after them. Obviously a little bad blood going off of last year and the year before, and both teams really want this, but I think we want it a little bit more.”