Yankees ALCS Game 2 loss isn’t just on Aaron Boone
The New York Yankees lost a tough one in Houston on Sunday night, 3-2 in 11 innings. After an Aaron Judge home run off Justin Verlander put them up 2-1, Aaron Boone was way too quick to burn through his relievers. Ultimately, his rigid method of getting through the game proved costly, as J.A. Happ gave up a first pitch home run to Carlos Correa in the bottom of the 11th.
The biggest crux in regards to Boone’s bullpen use was his decision to take out Chad Green and insert Adam Ottavino. The reason being? Well Green had gone two innings but was mowing down batters and wasn’t even up to 30 pitches when he was taken out. Ottavino proceeded to give up a home run on the first pitch he threw George Springer, and the game was a 2-2 battle for what felt like the next three hours.
Boone has actually been pretty good with his decisions thus far, including the decision to take out James Paxton before he even pitched three innings. We could all tell that Paxton wasn’t having a very good start and couldn’t find the strike zone, and Boone should be commended for pulling the plug so early.
However, Boone still hasn’t fully learned what it’s like to have a full feel for how the game is playing out. If this move would have worked out and the Yankees won 2-1, no harm, no foul. But it didn’t and here we are, trying to figure out why Boone took out Green. It doesn’t make any sense analytically and Boone wound up having to use Green, Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle in one inning.
Boone’s use of the bullpen has been great so far this postseason, but it’s also because it’s always worked out, at least until last night. Burning through solid relief pitchers means you have guys like J.A. Happ and Jonathan Loaisiga pitching in high-leverage innings, which isn’t what anyone wants. If Boone had been a little less methodical with his bullpen, maybe there would be an extra arm available in later innings.
Boone’s folly was large, but it doesn’t help that the Yankees’ bats disappeared after Judge’s home run. There weren’t many potential rallies, other than the top of the tenth. In the tenth, it was a kind of weird karma (and a make-up call) how Gary Sanchez was bailed out due to a fly ball hitting the rafters and a phantom foul-ball call, only to be punched out on a suspect called strike three.
The Yankees have very little wiggle room against a fantastic Astros team, so making the most of each opportunity is key. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t and squandered a chance to go back to the Bronx up 2-0. It’s not the end of the world as they already stole one in Houston, but now they need to beat Houston in three of the next five games to take it home.
Is it impossible? Absolutely not. Every time the Yankees have gone through some kind of adversity this season, they come back ten times stronger. The loss in Houston and the Giancarlo Stanton quad injury are just two things they consider small hurdles.
Stanton hurt his quad during Game One and actually hit his home run while injured. It’s not known how severe the injury is but the Yankees fear taking him off the roster when he has a chance to be healthy would be foolish because he would subsequently be left off the World Series roster as well. It’s more of a wait and see type of thing, and hopefully Stanton, who has looked good so far in the playoffs, can come back from.
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