The New York Yankees beat the 2019 World Series losers on Friday night in Houston, Texas, and we sincerely hope every fan in attendance enjoyed their 2019 American League Champion commemorative trinkets.
Other than the Yankees’ victory, the starkest difference from the action two years ago? Even in a relatively tight game, Aroldis Chapman didn’t sniff the mound.
12-1? Enough of a cushion for Aaron Boone to use his inherited closer after the Subway Series.
4-0? Nope. Boone managed like a playoff game, going to Chad Green for a pair before handing the ball off to Jonathan Loaisiga. Boom. Yankees win without sweating. A fan base could get used to this…
This was arguably the Yankees’ best game of the year, beginning to end, and not coincidentally, it might’ve been Boone’s best button-pushing, too.
But if you weren’t struck by the absence of Chapman, as well as floored by the realization of how much more you trusted Nestor Cortes than the Cuban Missile, then you missed the most important storyline here.
Uncover another reliever or two, like Loaisiga, and this Yankees team can absolutely contend and move on without the man who ended their season in 2019 and 2020 — and nearly did it last week, too.
Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green shut down the Astros instead of Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.
This was a game that should’ve gone awry.
This was a game that has gone awry so many times in this haphazard season — but then again, in most of those games, the ball wound up in Chapman’s sweaty palm. This time, all the team’s most trustworthy arms — Green, Loaisiga, and Cortes Jr. — touched the baseball in the proper order.
Outside of a one-out Kyle Tucker double in Green’s first inning, the seventh, there wasn’t even much of a threat. Forget sweat; this was a breeze.
Or maybe that was just thousands of trolled-out Astros supporters using their commemorative trophies as fans in the Texas heat.
At the trade deadline, the Yankees have a prime opportunity to pull off some sort of hybrid retool. Trade Aaron Judge? They would never, for so many reasons, marketing included. Even those who advocate for such things know that deal is dead on arrival.
Stand pat? Well, why would the Yankees do that? This is a .500 team for a reason. Blow it up? And have Brian Cashman resurrect it? No.
But selling Aroldis Chapman — and yes, probably Zack Britton — seems quite possible, especially as another close game on the most important road trip of the year went on seamlessly without him.