NEW YORK -- Turns out Yankees manager Aaron Boone did not learn from his mistake.
CC Sabathia to put the Yankees in an early 3-0 hole in an ALDS Game 4 they went on to lose 4-3., Boone doubled down on his long leash and allowed starter
Sabathia loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning and escaped with no damage. He pitched around a two-out walk in the second inning as well. The wheels came off in the third inning while Boone stood in the dugout with his arms cross.
Here is the third inning play-by-play with the win probability numbers:
- Andrew Benintendi hit-by-pitch. (46.0 percent chance of Yankees win)
- Steve Pearce single to center. (36.6 percent)
- J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly to center gives Red Sox a 1-0 lead. (38.8 percent)
- Xander Bogaerts grounds out to the pitcher. (40.6 percent)
- Ian Kinsler double to left gives Red Sox a 2-0 lead. (30.3 percent)
- Eduardo Nunez single to left gives Red Sox a 3-0 lead. (22.4 percent)
- Jackie Bradley Jr. grounds out to first. (23.9 percent)
After the Benintendi hit-by-pitch, Sabathia was left in to face five consecutive right-handed batters, all of whom were seeing him for the second time in the ballgame. It wasn't until the final pitch of the Bogaerts at-bat that the bullpen, specifically right-hander David Robertson, started to warm up.
Robertson continued to warm up throughout the inning, as Kinsler smoked a double over Brett Gardner's head in left and Nunez flared a single over Neil Walker's head at third. These days Sabathia succeeds by throwing his cutter in on the hands of righties, but, in that third inning, he was missing out over the plate:
Sabathia leaving pitches in the hitting zone to all those righties led to three runs. The larger issue is Sabathia remaining in the game to make those mistake pitches. He hadn't fooled the Red Sox at any point and yet the bullpen phone didn't ring until the fourth batter of the inning -- what's the harm of warming someone up earlier in the third? -- and never did a reliever enter the inning.
Remember the situation: Game 4 is a win-or-go-home game for the Yankees and the key late innings relievers (Robertson, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman) were all coming off two consecutive days of rest. Boone even said the Yankees were willing to use those guys for multiple innings "as much as we would almost ever have" prior to Game 4.
And yet, Sabathia remained in the game, and Kinsler and Nunez plated insurance runs when better options were available. It's very simple. The manager's No. 1 job is putting the club in the best possible position to succeed. It's hard to imagine how, with the season on the line, Sabathia was the better option against those righties in the third inning over one of New York's top relievers.
"You always kind of work through things or play out things differently, because a lot of times decisions you make are not just black and white," Boone said Tuesday afternoon when asked how he reflected on Game 3. "So you kind of evaluate those and think about those and hopefully analyze always and kind of sharpening the process as far as those decisions are made."
There was no "sharpening of the process." Boone made the same costly mistake in Game 4 -- leaving the starter in too long when better options existed in the bullpen -- that he did in Game 3 one day earlier. And now the Yankees will go into the offseason questioning whether their manager has the necessary feel to run a high-leverage bullpen in the postseason.