Did the New York Yankees have an easy win ahead of them on Sunday afternoon, even after taking a 3-0 lead? By no means.
After all, Jameson Taillon has struggled to complete more than five effective innings at once this year, and it’s always difficult to sweep a four-game set on the road — the Yankees haven’t done it in Cleveland, for example, since 1996.
Of course, it’s much harder to protect a win when you insist on starting several subs in a series finale and lean on Nick Nelson for multiple innings, even after he proved himself ineffective after his first pitch Sunday.
Enjoy the Aaron Boone Method, fans. Standard operating procedure.
There was nothing Boone could’ve done on Sunday afternoon to completely ruin a four-game set where the Yankees won the first three in impressive and clutch fashion. The Bombers are undoubtedly approaching the right track now, if not standing upon it.
Still…losing Sunday’s game was the latest link in an annoying chain, and the way the game unfolded felt like a part of Boone’s laissez-faire design.
Aaron Boone and the Yankees opted to punt again Sunday.
Will the Yankees struggle in Baltimore? Who knows?
We can outright guarantee, though, that like clockwork, they’ll fall behind at some point in the opening game and fans on Twitter will accuse Boone of blowing the team’s momentum by taking Sunday vacation.
They won’t be wrong.
Clint Frazier and DJ LeMahieu rested while battling different varieties of slumps, as LeMahieu is experiencing Rollover Fever, and Frazier can’t hit a lick right now. We understand. Even Aaron Hicks sitting made sense, once it was revealed he was battling a stiff back.
The Yankees don’t believe in “hot” hitting, but do believe in batting Rougned Odor fourth, though? Why is Brett Gardner leading off? Why both slumping starters on the bench at once?
Of course, the punt wasn’t really on until Nelson showed up the inning after the Indians took a 4-3 lead on a Franmil Reyes homer. He allowed a run, couldn’t control a single one of his pitches, and then…came back for more, allowing two more runs before Luis Cessa entered and dominated.
The second we saw Nelson toe the mound, we could’ve told you he wasn’t leaving until the ball had to be pried from his bruised hand. Boone smelled an opportunity to soak innings out of his personal gas can in a one-run game, and didn’t let the slipping game deter him from giving his superior players a breather.
4-3. It was 4-3. Four runs to three ones.
Does any other contender give up there? Doubtful, but the Yankees don’t particularly care about the regular season, nor do they believe in expounding all their energy in April.
You may agree with saving bullets in theory, but in practice, it’s deeply unpleasant, especially after such a sleepy start to the season, one which the team was finally beginning to undo until this ugly finale.