The baseball gods did not answer the Yankees’ last prayer on Friday night at Comerica Park in Motor City, which was essentially a plea for plate umpire Vic Carapazza to call a strike a strike and leave the last man in the game. bullpen Justin Wilson tilts for saving what should have been a 10-innings win over the Tigers.
Wilson had Robbie Grossman out on catches on a 2-2 pitch in the 10th with a runner in third, two behind and the Yankees in one run. The elevated 92 mph fastball definitely nicked the outside corner. The pitch probably looked like a strike for everyone except for fellow leaning behind Yankees wide receiver Gary Sanchez and then YES Network’s virtual strike zone confirmed it was a strike.
“I thought I made a pitch, he didn’t get called,” Wilson said. “It’s part of the game. You step forward and throw the next pitch.”
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The next pitch was a belt-high fastball that split the strike zone, Grossman hit it left for a two-run homer and the Yanks were 3-2 losers.
You can blame Wilson for the pitch that blew up the game, which added another miserable chapter to what has been a terrible comeback season for the Yankees. The man has had a great career, but his 2021 spring training was a living nightmare. His ERA after 15 outings is 6.08.
But here’s the deal, Wilson shouldn’t have been in this game. In fact, someone other than the Yankees’ worst-hit reliever should have been on the mound to shut down the Tigers, whose training isn’t much better than many of the Triple-A’s.
Boone had other options in the Yankees’ nine-man pen, better options even with the pen pieces that Wandy Peralta, Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman have already used.
You wanted Chapman to come back for 10th after his ninth without work in 14 lengths?
“No, no, not today,” Boone said. “I don’t know if I’m ready to play two innings with him yet. “
Boone isn’t at fault there. Chapman was just sick for two days and unavailable for Thursday’s doubles schedule, so it certainly wasn’t the time for two innings, which would have been a regular-season first for the southpaw with Boone in the lead.
Did you want Jonathan Loaisiga?
“He was down today,” Boone said. That meant the Yankees have made a commitment not to use the Outstanding Right-hander, and we’ll be giving Boone a pass as well. Loaisiga threw 27 shots in a 1 1/3 inning in Thursday’s opener.
Whether you understand this strategy or not, the Yankees will do what they think is the best way to protect the health of their pitchers. They certainly won’t extend Chapman at the end of May, and they certainly won’t with Loaisiga, who had a history of arm issues before emerging last season as a multiple-run relief horse that keeps getting better. .
The Yankees also probably wanted to stay clear of southpaw Lucas Luetge, who threw 24 shots in 1 1/3 inning in Game 2 on Thursday. Old-school relievers like Goose Gossage would probably fall off laughing at a healthy pitcher getting attacked after making a relief appearance on 24 pitches the night after a rain, but it’s Major League Baseball for every team. in 2021. So that’s what it is.
And so, Boone had to choose between Michael King, who will likely debut in Detroit on Sunday, erratic but efficient rookie Albert Abreu, middle reliever Luis Cessa or struggling Wilson.
Of those choices, all make sense, except for Wilson, whose most important fastball life has been AWOL for most of her outings because her childbirth needs to be fixed. The guy was a mess in spring training even before his tight shoulders, and he rarely looks good after starting the year on the IL.
King should have been an option. You hear managers say all the time: “Win today and think about tomorrow tomorrow” or, in this case, “Win today and think about Sunday Sunday”.
Abreu? He was better than Wilson.
Cess? It was the right choice. His 3.32 ERA is about half that of Wilson’s.
Here’s another reason why Boone should have gone to see King, Abreu, or Cessa rather than Wilson. They are all right-handed. If Boone looked at Grossman’s hitting spreads, he would have seen the switch hitter entered the game with a .304 strike against lefties and 0.227 against righties.
Perhaps Grossman received two batters against Gerrit Cole earlier in the game, made Boone think Wilson was a better game that night. And, Wilson had Grossman removed.
“Sometimes they’re called out, sometimes they’re not,” Wilson said.
And sometimes the right manager’s decision is to avoid giving your worst pitcher a chance to blow up the game at all costs.
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