The Yankees are going to have to make some major changes, and Aaron Boone’s late moves in Game 5 were indefensible.
If karma had swung the Yankees’ way, perhaps they would’ve prevailed. If the Ghost of Whitey Ford could’ve swayed momentum even one iota, perhaps things would’ve ended differently than the poorly-constructed, pre-written poetry would’ve had you believe it would.
Instead, it all went exactly as the dumbest screenwriter would’ve anticipated. Brosseau waited and waited and waited and homered, and the home plate umpire decided to switch allegiances in the ninth to officially end things. It was Aroldis Chapman, once again ending a season.
It was a playoff Yankee team getting right to the brink, coming off a monstrous Game 4 victory that defied all odds, and disappearing as much as anyone ever has once the heat was truly on. It was 2017, 2018, 2019, 2004, 2005, 2006…most years. Most years.
We hate to direct the heat firmly on the team’s manager (we don’t hate it), but while this game felt like it played right into Kevin Cash’s hands for the most part (we didn’t even see Blake Snell!), Aaron Boone held serve until the seventh inning, when he made two moves so head-scratchingly stupid, they may signal the end of his Yankees tenure, coupled with the pitching switch-up nobody asked for in Game 2.
First, with Zack Britton still serving up sinkers, he went to Chapman — known for becoming more hittable as his exposure increases — to face Brandon Lowe in the seventh inning, earlier than we ever could’ve imagined. Upside? Lowe, who walked against Chapman on Thursday, makes an out, thus stealing one of the net-positive ABs from his tiring left arm. Downside? Everything else.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Chapman got Lowe (who cares?), before being battled to death by Brosseau, the written-in-the-stars opponent who turned a miss up and in into a declaration of war in his own twisted head. The Rays invented the narrative, but you still knew how it’d play out.
Of course, the other move, while it had very little to do with the outcome, was the most confusing thing we’ve seen from Boone in three years.
Leading off the eighth, with Kyle Higashioka’s catching the lone bright spot in this demoralizing slog, Boone pinch-hit for his best defensive option behind the plate. With Gary Sanchez, in hopes he’d run into one? No, no. That would make too much sense.
Apparently, Boone wanted the clod-hopping Sanchez for his glove alone, and sent an ice cold Mike Ford to the plate. He missed a 3-2 hanger and struck out looking.
This move was indefensible. Not because it was specifically impactful on the final score, but because, an hour later, I can’t even approach the reasoning. Days later, I’ll be lost. Years in the future, unless Boone is relieved of his duties, I’ll ponder it in moments of weakness.
Not Clint Frazier. Not Mike Tauchman. Not even Sanchez himself. Mike Ford.
Aaron Boone doesn’t deserve to be fired because of just one move. He deserves to be fired because he took the team with all the momentum in the world after a Game 1 win, and seemingly asked, “How can I, personally, undo this? How can I toss my Yankees into a vortex?”
Without Boone and management’s meddling, this team doesn’t succumb to the Brosseau sonnet. Cashman stays. Boone goes.