Aaron Boone again touched the third rail Tuesday in Game 4 when he let CC Sabathia remain in just long enough for the 38-year-old starter to leave with a 3-0 deficit in what would become a 4-3 season-ending loss to the Red Sox.
The theme of this Division Series turned out to be Boone's handling of his pitchers.
Boone was largely criticized after Game 3 for letting starter Luis Severino continue a rocky start when he trailed, 3-0, after three innings. Boone did not remove Severino until he loaded the bases in the fourth and then, in another criticized move, replaced him with Lance Lynn, who got lit up in a seven-run outburst by the Red Sox.
Sabathia started the third inning by hitting Andrew Benintendi with a pitch. Steve Pearce singled Benintendi to third and J.D. Martinez scored him on a sacrifice fly, After Sabathia got Xander Bogaerts on a groundout, which sent Pearce to second, the left-hander threw a wild pitch, allowing Pearce to take third. Ian Kinsler then hit an RBI-double and Eduardo Nunez singled in the third run. By the time Sabathia got the final out, he had thrown 59 pitches over three innings.
Boone was asked about keeping Sabathia in the game despite how hard the Red Sox were hitting him. “I was fine with the way CC was throwing the ball,’’ he said. “He was at the two-out point. We were going to have him go through [Jackie] Bradley, simple as that. We just kind of knew we had our guys lined up enough that we could -- especially had we got to that point, we could get through the game. I think it was a sound decision to move him, allow him to go through Bradley at that point...had he gotten Nunez, it might have been the end of his night, but once Nunez got the hit, we weren't going to go to the pen there, we were going to let him face Bradley, the lefty there.’’
How seriously did Boone consider taking Sabathia out before Kinsler and Nunez?
‘’Not seriously at that point,’’ he said. ‘’Obviously, we had [David Robertson] up there, but no, not at that point. We were a hitter away...Kinsler smoked the ball. I think [left fielder] Brett Gardner got a little turned around there. And then Nunez hit the ball hard, but [I] felt good about him facing Bradley for the last hitter there. It would have been -- had he not gotten through there, it would have been Robbie. Once he did get through, we wanted [Zach] Britton to start the next inning and go through the top of their order.’’
Before the game, in a private sit-down with Yankees beat reporters, Boone admitted some misgivings about decisions he made in Game 3 regarding Severino and Lynn.
‘’Last night stung,’’ Boone said of Monday’s loss. He might have had the same after Game 4.