Joe Girardi knew the win and walk-off three-run home run was huge. But bigger than the Clint Frazier ninth inning hit against Brewers All-Star closer Corey Knebel Saturday afternoon in the Bronx, was the bullpen. And it was huge how Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning and the way Aroldis Chapman got the Yankees to the ninth inning.
And it was huge because Betances and Chapman combined for five strikeouts and walked none. Does this mean the backend of this Yankees bullpen is back in business? Time will tell and with the Yankees in a struggle this was huge coming from Betances and Chapman.
It is what Girardi has been looking for during this stretch of going 6-17, losing first place to the Boston Red Sox. Chapman was getting back to form but Betances was another story. Between the walks, no location on the fastball, Betances was lost.
But one inning at Yankee Stadium, in a game the Yankees knew they could win, changed the complexion of the struggles that saw Betances snap a streak of five straight outings with at least one walk.
“These guys are talented,” said Girardi. “Vital to our success. Glad to see Dellin and Chapman back on track.” Again, one game does not provide an indicator but on the mound Betances was more confident with the fastball and the frustration of the past week did not show.
And, yes, if the Yankees want to remain in this hunt for the divisional title or the wildcard, well it is simple to understand. They need an effective Dellin Betances and the same from Chapman. So those words from Girardi are significant as the Yankees will try and win their first series since the beginning of June, Sunday afternoon against the Brewers.
But the answer to all of this is Dellin Betances. He is the only one that can analyze what went wrong in taking the loss in three of his last four appearances and not finding the plate. The picture of waking four Wednesday afternoon, that led to a Toronto go ahead run is hard to take.
But Saturday afternoon, Betances said it was different. The curveball was over the plate and an infield out from Ji Man Choi coming off the bag, with Betances getting the putout of Ryan Braun, well that may have been the motivator.
Betances thought it was some type of boost. “Choi making that play and then attacking the zone,” he said. It meant bases empty and Betances was able to focus on what he had to do. More importantly the mechanics were better and the tide once again changed.
“I believe in myself every time I go out there from the bad to the good,” he said. “Turn the page and definitely good what I did today putting the team in a position to come back and I did.” And the fastball and curve were a huge difference for Dellin Betances.
This was more like it and a win the Yankees needed. And it was what the Yankees expect from the righthander before going to Chapman in those late innings. The rookie Frazier was a difference maker but more so, it was Dellin Betances.
Because as the manager said, we need those guys. Betances to Chapman was always the plan and so important to be effective if the Yankees want to get off to a good start after the break and play meaningful baseball games during that September stretch.
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