(Aroldis Chapman, after blowing yet another save. - NYPost.com)
As many of you were settling into your beds getting ready for another work week, Aroldis Chapman took the mound to go to work himself. The Yankees $86 million closer was in the game in the ninth inning to preserve a hard fought 2-1 lead. The Yankees battled all night against the dominating Chris Sale but only managed one run over seven innings. Sale came in as advertised, striking out 12 Yankees. Not to be overshadowed, Rookie Jordan Montgomery pitched beautifully for 5.1 innings, allowing just one run. Montgomery, fresh from the farm and fresh from getting hit in the head while signing autographs Saturday, was able to match Sale and keep the Yankees in the game. Todd Frazier’s sacrifice fly in the 8th inning gave the Yankees the slimmest of leads, but one you expect your highly paid closer to protect. Yet, he didn’t. Last night’s loss is all on the left hand of #54.
Sure, you can complain about Aaron Judge striking out another three times or Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorious not coming through with runners in scoring position. You can even get on Joe Girardi for not sending Jacoby Ellsbury in to pinch run for Chase Headley after he walked in the ninth so Ellsbury could try and steal a base before the sacrifice bunt that came from Ronald Torreyes. The fact of the matter is, the Yankees had a lead and they are paying a man an extraordinary amount of money to do close out games, and he didn’t. The funny thing about last night is that Chapman came into the game snorting smoke and throwing fire. He quickly dispatched of Hanley Ramirez with blistering fastballs and had Rafael Devers down 1-2 before the Boston Rookie demolished a 103 MPH fastball to tie the game. Devers became only the second lefty ever, and the first in six years, to homer off Chapman. Despite that home run, Chapman still looked really good and was able to get out of the inning without any further damage. Girardi did the right thing by leaving him in to pitch the 10th but when Chapman hit Jackie Bradley Jr. on a 1-2 pitch, and then walked Eduardo Nunez, he left Tommy Kahnle with a mess that he couldn’t clean up. Andrew Benintendi, who killed the Yankees all series long, lined a go ahead single off Kahnle to put the Sox up 3-2 and give their highly paid closer, Craig Kimbrel, a one run lead he was able to protect.
Chapman has proven to be faulty all year long. He blew a three run lead to the Chicago Cubs back on May 7th that the Yankees needed 18 innings to recover from. He couldn’t hold a one run lead back on July 14th in Boston. This was the first game after the All Star Break and the Yankees were struggling, desperately needing a win. But he walked Benintendi in with the bases loaded to lose that game. He was bailed out by great defense in both Cleveland last Saturday and this past Friday night or else his tally of four blown saves would be larger. It’s time for Chapman to move out of the ninth inning when there are better options like David Robertson and Dellin Betances out there. He can have his closer role back in 2018, but for the 2017 Yankees to be the best they can be, Aroldis Chapman can’t be closing games for them.
A win was so vital to the Yankees last night. Three games out in the division with another series coming against Boston this weekend. Now they find themselves out 5 games in the loss column. The Yankees have 46 games remaining. They’d have to go 29-17 if Boston just plays .500 baseball the rest of the way. The Yankees could go on that type of stretch, but this is also a team that has been 9 games under .500 since they were a season high 15 over on June 12th. So, you can see why I’m not exactly willing to bet my house on that happening.
The Yankees look to right the ship as Luis Cessa takes the ball at home in Game 1 of the 2017 Subway Series against Rafael Montero and the Mets. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.
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