The New York Yankees came into Tuesday about to play their biggest series of the season.
Just two games (one in the loss column) behind the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race, New York is facing its biggest rival for a three-game set in the Bronx.
Playing the first game of a day-night doubleheader, the Yankees took Game 1 thanks to some timely hitting, a sufficient outing from Jordan Montgomery, who was making his first start off the COVID list, and a spotless performance from the bullpen.
While the players obviously deserve credit for going out and performing, we’d be remiss if we didn’t shower Aaron Boone with some praise.
The polarizing Yankees manager has been subject of criticism all season long for his tendency to micro-manage and just flat-out make dreadful decisions.
However, Boone has been on the money of late and he carried that momentum into Tuesday’s all-important doubleheader. While the jury is still out on Game 2, Boone out-managed Alex Cora by a wide margin in the first leg.
Aaron Boone deserves credit for pushing the right buttons for the Yankees.
After managing the bullpen to perfection in Monday’s make-up game vs the Angels, Boone replicated that success against Boston.
Boone pulled Montgomery after 4.2 innings (78 pitches) in favor of Albert Abreu, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings on Monday, to get the final out in the fifth. The 25-year-old did exactly that, getting Hunter Renfroe to fly out with a man on first.
In the bottom of the fifth, after Luke Voit’s bloop single gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead, Boone pinch hit Giancarlo Stanton for Rougned Odor, who was 2-for-2.
It seemed like a puzzling move, but Stanton rewarded his manager’s faith by lacing an RBI single into center field to give the Yankees a two-run advantage.
Looking to put a stranglehold on the game, Boone turned to his best reliever, Jonathan Loaisiga, to break Boston’s spirit.
The hard-throwing righty shut the door in the sixth on eight pitches before escaping a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the seventh to seal the win. It was admittedly a miracle escape, but an escape nonetheless!
While it might’ve been risky for Boone to stay with Loaisiga as long as he did — there was apparently no one warming in the bullpen in the seventh — his trust paid off, and there’s something to be said for that, especially for a guy whose decisions have been maligned by the fan base all season long.
The Yankees are now a season-best 15 games over .500, tied with the Red Sox in the loss column and 44-23 (!) in one-run games in 2021.
If not for Boone pushing the right buttons, Game 1 could’ve gone a lot differently.