While Greg Bird mends from surgery, Tyler Austin belts out two home runs and RBI while showing the Yankees he belongs. Still, it was not enough to overcome Aaron Boone’s numerous blunders handling the bullpen.
Tyler Austin’s first home run of the Yankees season
It’s top of the fifth inning, and the Yankees are trailing 2-0. Brandon Drury draws a walk, and up comes Tyler Austin. Austin who was looking for his first hit of the season wallops a Marco Estrada fastball to the upper deck of Rogers Centre to tie the game at two.
Yankee starter, CC Sabathia, gives the Yanks five solid innings, allowing just one earned run (Drury’s throwing error caused the other), striking out four batters before turning the contest over to the bullpen.
Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the game is still tied. With Adam Warren now pitching, the UNC alum gets the first out on a grounder by Randal Grichuk.
Warren walks the next hitter, Kevin Pillar, and then Aledmys Diaz lines a pitch off of Warren’s leg which luckily bounces to Austin, who makes the tag for the second out. Warren is forced to leave the game injured, and this is where it all takes a turn for the worse.
Boones first mistake
Tied at two with a runner in scoring position on second base, we’re sure Boone will bring in one of his star relievers, like David Robertson, Chad Green or Tommy Kahnle.
But no, wait, right-hander Jonathan Holder gets the call to face Luke Maile, who, on cue, strokes a clean single to put the Jays up 3-2. Is it a managerial error by Boone to put in the inexperienced Holder with pressures mounting? Hindsight says yes.
Austin’s’s second home run
We move to the top of the seventh inning, and Austin again homers off of another Estrada fastball.
This one is a solo shot into the second deck of the left-field stands, which in my opinion, bailed out Boone’s questionable decision making the previous inning.
Anyway, Austin’s second dinger ties the game at three and further cement his case that he belongs where he is, as the Yanks’ starting first baseman, even vs. right-handed pitching.
Onto the bottom of the seventh inning, setup man Dellin Betances gives up a single to Curtis Granderson who promptly gets thrown out trying to steal second base. Gary Sanchez still has a cannon for an arm.
Then Josh Donaldson goes down swinging, and Justin Smoak grounds out softly to Betances for the final out.
Boone’s second blunder
Bottom of the eighth inning, and again, we expect to see Green, Kahnle or even D-Rob, but Boone sends Betances BACK out. Why? He wasn’t exactly dominant the previous innings.
As a matter of fact, Betances wasn’t consistent at all this spring, so why would the Yankees use him for multiple innings and risk his waining confidence?
Last time I checked, the outcomes in March count the same as those in September. With the game on the line, disaster strikes from a solo homer by Yangervis Solarte — Jays up 4-3.
You would think Boone immediately makes a pitching change — but no. I believe this is his third managerial blunder of the game.
Boone’s third and fourth blunders
Now the circus really begins, making Betances and the Yanks look foolish. Betances fans Grichuk, but Pillar singles.
Betances fans Grichuk, but Pillar singles. Diaz strikes out; however, Betances is clearly on the ropes and is distracted by Pillar stealing second base. Maile walks. Larry Rothchild visits the mound, and the coaching staff still leaves in Betances.
It was almost as if Boone decided to concede this game.
Maile steals second — the third stolen base of the inning, and with nobody covering third base, we watch in horror as Pillar steals home. Betances throws wildly to the plate, a balk in my mind since he never came set, and the game is out of reach at 5-3.
Leaving Betances in after sending Rothchild out to the mound was not only a bad call, but it humiliated the Yankees’ pitcher along with the entire team in that clown show of an inning.
Saturday’s display is far from championship baseball.
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Is this the way Aaron Boone is going to use his super bullpen all season long? If so, the Yankees, despite all the hype, and even with their abundantly talented team, are in deep trouble.