Yankees’ Aaron Boone seemed ill-prepared for Gerrit Cole’s decision
Maybe it didn’t matter.
The Yankees were already down 2-0 in Game 3 and it looked like the game was allowed to continue from Saturday night until the NFL games kick off on Sunday, they were never going to score against the Astros. . Houston’s pitch had the Yankees’ batting number — and that number is zero.
Still, the start of the sixth inning didn’t go well for Aaron Boone and the Yankees. We felt like we were ill-prepared at the moment.
Let’s move into the moment.
Gerrit Cole pitched well in five innings. But two issues had built up his pitch count and put the Yankees behind. In the first inning, after taking out Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena, Cole hit Yordan Alvarez on the toe with a breaking ball on his ninth pitch of the inning. He wouldn’t give up a run, but by the time he pulled away, Cole had used 21 pitches.
Cole produced two outs on four pitches in the second. Christian Vazquez then lifted a fly between Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge. They were the Yankees’ top two defensemen playing in Game 3 of the ALCS. But their miscommunication led to the judge cutting in front and distracting Bader, who knocked the ball out of his glove for an error. As has happened too often when something went wrong this year, Cole did not take over his team. Instead, he gave up a home run for a ninth straight playoff game, this one against Chas McCormick.
That’s why Cole had 84 pitches in the sixth and the Yankees trailed 2-0. Alex Bregman started with a brace. By then, the Yankees had scored four runs in the first 23 innings of this series. They had one hit against Astros starter Cristian Javier, which means one hit in all 12 innings he’s pitched at Yankee Stadium this year.
The Yankees were down 2-0 in games and 2-0 in Game 3. It was a game to win and the Yankees were going to struggle to get two runs to tie and three to win. Thus, Bregman was to be treated as the series winning race. Everything had to be done to prevent him from scoring. Whoever Boone thought was his best reliever had to be up.
But no one got up before three pitches in a plate appearance by Kyle Tucker. And he wasn’t the Yankees’ best reliever — take your pick of Clay Holmes or Jonathan Loaisiga, or even the fearless Wandy Peralta. It was their fourth best choice. Lou Trivino started to warm up.
« That’s a good question, » Boone said Sunday. « That’s one way of looking at it, but also at this point I kind of think that if we have to go see somebody there at the start of the sixth year, I’m going to need everyone to come back. I liked Trivino at the lower end there. But I think there’s a case, especially once you load up the bases there, that Holmes or even Loaisiga could have been in play there.
If I have a problem with Boone’s management style, it’s highlighted here. It looks like a pre-game meeting a few hours before the first pitch it was decided that Trivino would be a good game for the bottom of the lineup and the best relievers would be needed for the deadly top of the order of Houston over the last three innings. But that’s theory. In real time, it was the moment of crisis. Again, Bregman can not score. So what looked good using your fourth-best reliever at 3 p.m. looked a lot worse in the sixth inning with the actual realities.
And here’s the thing. Boone still had time to change his mind. Tucker had fouled a ball from his knee to make the count 1-2. He was in a bit of pain, stayed inside, and Cole threw three straight balls to finish first and second. At that point, Jose Trevino headed for the mound, followed quickly out of the dugout by pitching coach Matt Blake. If you’re trying to stall, the usual move is to get the catcher out slowly, talk to the pitcher alone, and start back before the pitching coach slowly comes out and stays until chased. by an arbitrator.
But here Trevino and Blake were much faster than necessary. Yuli Gurriel blooped a first pitch single to the right to load the bases. Boone came out of the dugout with Cole at 96 pitches. He stopped short of the first baseline and seemed to say, « Are you okay? » to Cole. Boone said Saturday and Sunday he was doing this to give Trivino more time to warm up.
Except what was it? Three more seconds? Trivino had already warmed up for over three minutes. If saving time was so vital, tell Blake to take his time for the mound. It played like even Boone didn’t know what to do because the only choice to keep Bregman at No. 3 was his best starter (Cole) or his best reliever (Loaisiga or Holmes). But Boone never showed us who he thought was his best reliever by warming him up in that four-alarm moment. Trey Mancini was due to arrive and on his first at bat he smashed a fly ball in Death Valley that would have been a homer in 22 of 30 stadiums, but was an out at Yankee Stadium. He walked in his second at bat.
So after initially hesitating to cross the first-base line and make it a second trip to the mound and an automatic out of Cole, Boone decided not to let his ace face Mancini again. His body language played as if he was reluctantly turning to his fourth-best reliever. Mancini hit a sacrifice fly to bring Bregman home. That Vazquez followed up with a two-run single seemed both stack-on and out of place. Is it all different if the Yankees hold it at 2-0 for their last four at bats where a walk and a home run could tie the score? We will never know.
Boone turned to Trivino. The score skyrocketed to 5-0. Houston took three games to a lead.