o one signed up for this goat rodeo of a Yankees campaign, which still feels in serious peril despite a rare, relatively relaxing win in the nightcap.
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Well, other than the team’s priciest two pitchers getting booed off the field and the manager making his most confounding decision of this dumpster-fire 2021, the Yankees enjoyed a lovely Independence Day on Sunday.
No, given how this pinstriped season has proceeded, the odds favor the Yankees’ loss from this Subway Series doubleheader split in The Bronx, 10-5 to the Mets in Game 1, carrying a longer tail than their 4-2 recovery victory in the nightcap. After all, it’s not like a couple of nice innings from Nestor Cortes and some dominance from Chad Green mitigate the serious concerns around Gerrit Cole and Aroldis Chapman, nor the team’s overall 42-41 mark.
“It’s really fricking hard right now,” Aaron Boone said following the opener, sounding like Dr. Evil from the “Austin Powers” movies and experiencing a similar level of success with his maneuvers.
The ace Cole, handed a 4-1 lead in Game 1, couldn’t get out of the fourth inning against the club’s intracity rival. Chapman, sinking like a milkshake duck, gave up a lead for the third time in three appearances and suffered the loss. That these two guys, both of their results plummeting since word leaked that Major League Baseball would be cracking down on sticky stuff, both made the American League All-Star team on Sunday further heightened the surreal vibe of this absolutely disastrous Yankees season to date.
Really, though, it can’t be stressed enough that Chapman never should’ve entered Game 1 when he did, and that’s on Boone.
Because Cole lasted only 3 ¹/₃ innings, giving up four runs, the Yankees turned early to Jonathan Loaisiga, who recorded a solid 2 ¹/₃ innings before Boone asked Green to get the last out of the sixth with the Yankees up 5-4.
Green threw a grand total of two pitches. He had last pitched on June 28. Chapman had last pitched on June 30, when he memorably served up a game-tying grand slam to the Angels’ Jared Walsh. So why in the world wouldn’t Boone let Green, one of his best relievers, come back out for the seventh to close things out and hope he could pocket Chapman for a lower-leverage situation?
“Once I shot Lo’s length, and then if I shoot Greenie’s length, I’ve got no leverage length in Game 2,” Boone said. Asked why not lock down the game at hand and worry about Game 2 during Game 2, the manager said, “Because we hadn’t gotten to that point yet and I felt confident in Chappy coming in.”
As it turned out, Green did great work in Game 2, tossing three perfect innings that included an immaculate seventh. By that point, however, the Yankees already had registered their third straight series loss.
Boone praised Chapman for improving his mechanics this time, but come on now. The first batter Chapman faced, Pete Alonso, slugged a game-tying homer on a 1-and-2 slider that Boone and catcher Kyle Higashioka called a mistake, and then the closer hit a batter and walked another before mercifully getting lifted for Lucas Luetge, who further blew things up just as he did following Chapman against the Angels. Obviously the Yankees must demote Chapman to less pressurized situations for the short term at least.
Wait, don’t leave yet, we still have to discuss the Yankees’ $324 million man posting a 5.24 ERA in his past six starts!
“There’s been some good [starts] in there too,” Cole said, and yes, half of them are quality starts. Nevertheless, even in those, he didn’t dominate like he had pre-crackdown, and on Sunday, he registered eight swings and misses — compared to, for instance, the 24 he obtained in his May 12 masterpiece (eight innings, 12 strikeouts) against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
“I’ve got to take the positives from a personal standpoint, but obviously losing the lead and being responsible for that is first and foremost on my mind,” Cole said. Asked about being booed by these fans for the first time, Cole said, “It is what it is. You sign up for it when you come here.”
No one signed up for this goat rodeo of a Yankees campaign, which still feels in serious peril despite a rare, relatively relaxing win in the nightcap.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff