For Starters, Yanks Need to Push Theirs When the Opportunity Presents Itself

nysportsday wire

Yankee Manager Aaron Boone is taking some heat for last night’s 7-6, 11 inning loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee. Managers get criticized all the time, it comes with the territory, but last night that criticism was justified.

With the game tied at five in the ninth, Boone elected to use closer Clay Holmes who threw only 10 pitches to retire the side in order.

The Yankees scored a run in the top of the 10th to take a 6-5 lead, but, for some reason, Boone elected not to use Holmes (not a second guess) to lock down the win but instead opted for Michael Tonkin, who was essentially released three times this season.

Tonkin gave up the lead in the 10th and then lost the game in the 11th as the Brewers handed the Yankees a demoralizing defeat. If the Yankees had not scored, then lifting Holmes would’ve made a little more sense as you don’t want to waste him in a game that they could potentially lose, but they had the lead which made the move even more head scratching.

After the game, this was Boone’s reason for not using Holmes for a second inning. ”I wasn’t going two innings with my closer tonight when he’s been in essentially half our games and especially some of the attrition we had down there in our bullpen,” he said.

The attrition was of their own doing. The Yankees have an obsession with going to the bullpen, even when there is an opportunity to push the starter.’s Bryan Hoch noted in his column that “Ian Hamilton was unavailable after throwing 39 pitches over two appearances during the Athletics series.”

Let’s cite that note about Hamilton with the notion that the Yankees may have lost last night’s game last Monday in their 2-0 loss to the A’s at Yankee Stadium.

(BTW: The A’s, who are not as bad as many think because they have some pretty good pitching, beat the first place Orioles last night in Baltimore to give them 3 wins in their last five games on the road against the top two teams in the AL East)

In that game last Monday, starting pitcher Carlos Rodon was dealing. The Yankee left hander tossed 92 pitches through seven scoreless innings. In what turned out to be his final inning, Rodon threw 11 pitches in a dominant 1-2-3 inning but Boone would not send him out for the 8th. 

Unless Rodon said he was done, did the Yankees really have to use Hamilton in the eighth when they could’ve pushed their starting pitcher for another inning? There are no guarantees that going to the bullpen will always work. Case in point, you can bring in a “fresh arm” and that next pitcher may not have it.

Hamilton pitched the 8th and got the first two outs but after a single, a walk and a hit by pitch, the A’s had the bases loaded and appeared ready to break the scoreless tie. Hamilton got behind 2-0 on Shea Langeliers but he came back to strike out the A’s catcher on seven pitches but he had to throw 28 pitches in that inning.

Holmes was used in the Friday and Saturday games against Tampa Bay and was not available for the Sunday game, so Boone used lefthander Victor Gonzalez to get the save in series winning, 5-4 victory.

Because Hamilton had to throw so many pitches in the eighth, he was not available for the ninth in Monday’s game. Boone was not going to use Holmes for a third time in four games, so he tried Gonzalez for a second straight day to keep Oakland off the board and give the Yankees a chance to win the game in the last of the ninth.

This time, the leadoff batter, Abraham Toro, reached on an infield single where Gonzalez fell down trying to make a play on the ball. Zach Gelof then hit a two run homer off Gonzalez to snap the scoreless tie. The Yankees saw hard throwing A’s closer Mason Miller for the first time in their half of the ninth and they didn’t see the baseball as he blew away Anthony Volpe, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge on 14 pitches to record the save.

By lifting Rodon, the Yankees started a chain reaction that led to a loss on Monday and, you could make an argument, indirectly led to a loss last night because the relievers had to be used so much in the succeeding games. Rodon is starting tonight and because of attrition, the Yanks will need him to give them length in game two of this interleague series. 

A 0 for 14 from the 3-4-5 hitters (Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres) in the lineup certainly did not help but the Yankees cannot keep relying on the bullpen to bail them out. When there’s a chance to push the starting pitcher, they need to take advantage of the opportunity or else there will be more dispirited losses like last night.

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