As he met with reporters a little after 11:30 a.m., Aaron Boone spoke about balancing keeping his players healthy against making sure they are sharp for the postseason.
A few hours later, two members of his beleaguered bullpen reinforced the manager’s words — just not in the way he would have hoped.
The Yankees absorbed two blows in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. One was Aroldis Chapman’s disastrous seventh-inning relief appearance and the other was the loss of Ron Marinaccio to what the righthander called a sore right shin in the eighth.
For a team with World Series aspirations, both are troublesome. The Yankees already are missing closer Clay Holmes (strained right shoulder) and Zack Britton (fatigued left shoulder). Holmes will not be available until the American League Division Series, which begins Oct. 11. Britton was placed on the injured list before Saturday’s 8-0 win, ending his season after three September appearances following his return from Tommy John surgery.
The regular season-ending four-game series in Texas could be viewed as an audition for bullpen roles. “We’ll continue to look for spots to get guys in and make evaluations,” Boone said.
With the score tied at 1-1, Chapman replaced Lucas Luetge to start the seventh. After Cedric Mullins led off with a chopper that eluded Josh Donaldson, Chapman walked Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander to load the bases. Ryan Mountcastle struck out but Gunnar Henderson walked to force home the go-ahead run. Marinaccio then allowed a sacrifice fly by Austin Hays before Aaron Hicks ran down Terrin Vavra's liner in the leftfield corner.
“[I] haven’t been executing consistent strikes,” Chapman said through an interpreter. He was coming off five straight scoreless appearances in which he allowed one hit and struck out five in 4 1/3 innings, but he has been wildly inconsistent this season, mostly because of his inability to throw his fastball for strikes. He has allowed only 24 hits and struck out 41 but has walked 28 in 35 1/3 innings.
Chapman missed six weeks earlier in the season with left Achilles tendinitis and then missed a month after suffering an infection in his left leg stemming from a tattoo.
Marinaccio began the eighth by getting Kyle Stowers to fly out to Hicks before leaving with the sore shin. Boone said he has been battling the injury all season and will get an MRI, adding that it's “possible” that he will be shut down for the remainder of the regular season.
Marinaccio does not think it will be an issue once the playoffs begin. “It was a little more fired up,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been dealing with all year.”
Chi Chi Gonzalez, promoted to start Sunday, limited the Orioles to one run and four hits in 4 ⅔ innings.
“It’s awesome being in this atmosphere,” he said. “There was a little anticipation [and] nervousness coming into it.”