Yankees: Aaron Boone’s lack of leadership obvious during Kriske meltdown

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 06: Manager Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 6, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 06: Manager Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 6, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Someone explain this to us like we’re five: we understand why Yankees manager Aaron Boone put Brooks Kriske in for the tenth inning on Thursday night.

We don’t like it, but we understand it.

That said…where on earth was Boone to calm his pitcher when the moment got too big?

And why did Gleyber Torres have to do it for him?

It’s every Yankee fan’s instinct to blame Boone first and ask questions later, and in terms of the insertion of Chad Green over maintaining Luis Cessa for the ninth, it’s hard to attack the maneuver. Someone has to pitch Friday through Sunday, and Boone would’ve been filleted for not going to the closest thing he had to a closer in a two-run game if things had gone awry. And remember how bad Green was the last time he tried to close out an unclean inning?

But in the tenth inning — which you might’ve written off the second you saw Kriske warming in the ‘pen — all of Boone’s greatest hits came back to bite this team.

Failure of leadership as the wheels came off? Absolutely. Failure to recognize that, with this team fighting for its life, it might be time to activate Aroldis Chapman from his resting state? Of course. And a tactical meltdown with the decision not to intentionally walk the bases loaded with the winning run at third? Catastrophically stupid. The tenth inning was Boone’s awful design, top to bottom.

Yankees: Aaron Boone massacred the 10th inning last night.

First, the Kriske angle. The clear lowest man on the totem pole had saved the team’s bacon on Wednesday already, which should’ve satisfied them enough not to try him again. Were there other options in the ‘pen? Objectively…yes. Justin Wilson, for as much as Yankee fans hate him, probably had a higher chance of holding serve and at least keeping the game tied than Kriske. That’s simply a fact. Nobody would’ve been thrilled to see Wilson, but Kriske was a death sentence.

This goes deeper, though. This was a 3-1 game with two outs in the ninth, blown by Green. You can’t prepare for that to happen, necessarily, but once he escaped to extras, Boone needed to realize this contest had now become a game you can’t allow to get away. New life had been given to the Yankees. You’d just walked a tightrope of another historic gag and came out with a final shot at redemption.

Sorry, but all restrictions have to be off there. Maybe a second inning of Green. Maybe Chapman. Maybe Zack Britton. Nobody available can be glued to the bench with a postseason berth potentially on the line. In past years, the Yankees could be diligent with their rest plans because they knew they’d be there at the end anyway. This year, they should be taking nothing for granted. The feel for the moment plummeted perilously close to zero as soon as Kriske toed the rubbed, breathed deep, and was allowed to bounce endless dirtballs in front of a Triple-A catcher.

Once the inning began, it became obvious that Boone had given up on the game even before you, the viewer, did. Once Xander Bogaerts had reached third base with JD Martinez and Hunter Renfroe approaching, there was absolutely no reason not to walk the bases loaded and try to induce a Christian Vazquez double play, potentially with Britton on the mound. What do you have to lose? One more wild pitch and the game ends anyway, whether the bags are full or not? Nope. Boone surrendered. Might as well keep a few non-scoring runners off the bases and keep Kriske’s WHIP low, right?

And then there’s the mound visit. As Kriske was melting down, who came to visit him? Certainly not Boone, who was likely texting an ESPN executive to ask if there might be a Sunday Night Baseball slot available while A-Rod takes his European vacation. It was Torres, who’s gotten dinged plenty this year as well, taking it upon himself to comfort an out-of-sorts reliever on a stage far too big for him. Kind gesture, but what type of chain of command is that?

There is no chance a firing will come midseason. It’ll either be the expiration of a contract when the year is done or a horrifying reengagement.

For a while, though, we gave credit to Boone for manning the ship whenever the Yankees were forced into a “next man up” situation, culling saviors from the minors. But now that it’s happening again and the Yankees are playing their best baseball of the season with a group of scrap heap pickups, isn’t it more of an indictment on Boone that the only time they look competent is when the team on the field has never listened to him before?