Yanks need to get leads for bullpen trio
The Yankees will get some help Monday, although it will not be in an area of need. Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing relief pitcher, will come off his 30-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, but the back end of the bullpen is the least of the Yankees’ woes.
The Yankees already have plenty of strength there with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Chapman, acquired by trade in the off-season from the Reds, will give the Yankees the most formidable bullpen trio since Cincinnati’s legendary “Nasty Boys” — Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton — for Lou Piniella’s 1990 World Series champions.
What remains at question is how often the Yankees can give these three relievers leads to protect. The bats went silent again Sunday night as they were tamed by knuckleballer Steven Wright, who came within one out of a shutout ruined by Brett Gardner’s third home run of the season. It was one of only three hits by the Yanks, whose hopes of sweeping the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium were dashed in Boston’s 5-1 victory.
Luis Severino’s record fell to 0-5, although manager Joe Girardi expressed encouragement that the second-year righthander is turning the corner. Severino was clocked for three home runs — two by David Ortiz — but he had nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox added a fourth home run in the eighth as Xander Bogaerts took Chasen Shreve deep. The way Wright pitched, Severino’s fate was sealed In the first inning when he walked leadoff batter Mookie Betts and gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first row of the right field stands.
Big Papi, on the other hand, launched a pair of bombs that were milestones in a career he plans to conclude at the end of this season, a decision that looks awfully premature considering the way he is swinging the bat. Ortiz pushed his career home run total to 512, passing Mel Ott on the career list and tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews, three Hall of Fame sluggers. Of that total, 454 have come with the Red Sox, the second most in club history behind only Ted Williams, whose career total of 521 were all hit for Boston.
Ortiz has just been taking batting practice against the Yankees this season. In six games against them, Big Papi is batting .364 with five home runs and seven RBI in 22 at-bats. The Stadium crowd let him have it with the boos for his embarrassing tirade against umpire Ron Kulpa Friday night, but he pretty much quieted everybody with the pair of massive shots off Severino.
The Yankees had one hit over the first six innings against Wright, 30, a journeyman who has restarted his career with the knuckleball. They did not have a runner in scoring position until the seventh when Starlin Castro led off with a double to right. He crossed to third on a flyout but was thrown out trying to get back to the bag after deciding against trying to score on a pitch in the dirt. Castro, who was picked off second base four games ago, hurt a rib on the play and was pinch-hit for in the ninth, but Girardi said he did not consider the injury serious and expected Castro to play Monday night when the World Series champion Royals open a four-game set at the Stadium.
Chapman will be there, too. Can the Yankees give him reason to get into the game. Yankees fans can only hope so.