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Aroldis Chapman strikes out side to get first save in a month for Yankees

Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman delivers against the

Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman delivers against the Phillies during the ninth inning of an MLB game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Despite giving up a run in the ninth, Aroldis Chapman picked up his first save in exactly a month by striking out the side in the Yankees’ 6-4 victory over the Phillies on Tuesday night.

Chapman, who had lost his closer’s job over the last month, came in to protect a 6-3 lead. He fell behind 3-and-0 to the first batter he faced – Bryce Harper – including a 2-and-0 fastball under Harper’s chin that went to the backstop. But Chapman rebounded and struck out Harper on a nasty slider.

Andrew McCutchen followed with a home run to left to make it 6-4. Chapman shook it off and struck out Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius on six pitches to nail down his 17th save.

"Another really good step forward," manager Aaron Boone said. "To fall behind 3-and-0 to Harper and then just make some really good pitches against him was huge. [McCutchen] put a good swing on him. Three-run lead there, you tip your cap a little bit. But then it was right back to, I thought, really got locked in with his delivery, pounded the zone. We saw the velocity up. Overpowered Hoskins and then the same with Didi. I think he just got in a really good place with his delivery. It was on line and the stuff was there, so encouraging again."

Who’s on first?

With DJ LeMahieu (stomach flu) and Chris Gittens (sore Achilles) unavailable, Boone picked catcher Rob Brantly to start and make his first big-league appearance at first base. Brantly went 1-for-4; his sixth-inning double was the 32-year-old’s first major-league hit since 2017.

Boone said he also considered Gary Sanchez and Rougned Odor for first before settling on Brantly, who played the position three times this season in Triple-A. Boone said he hopes to have LeMahieu back on Wednesday, but is unsure about Gittens.

Lo’s return imminent

Two Yankees are on track to return from the COVID-19 injured list, but Aaron Judge is not one of them. Reliever Jonathan Loaisiga rejoined the club and could be activated during the four-game series in Boston that begins on Thursday, Boone said.

Loaisiga was the first of six Yankees to go on the COVID-19 IL during the recent outbreak. The righthander was placed on the IL on July 10, one day after he pitched against the Astros. Loaisiga had to quarantine in Houston until he was cleared to rejoin the team.

Other than Loaisiga, the Yankee on the COVID-19 IL who is closest to returning is Nestor Cortes Jr., Boone said. The lefthander could be activated next week.

Boone said he had no update on possible return dates for Judge, Gio Urshela, Kyle Higashioka or Wandy Peralta.

The Yankees aren’t the only team dealing with COVID. Phillies starter Aaron Nola was activated for the game off the COVID IL as manager Joe Girardi’s club is dealing with an outbreak of its own. Four players were placed on the COVID IL on July 11. Nola is the first one back. Just before the game, the Phillies added two relievers (Bailey Falter and JD Hammer) to their COVID IL.

Asher Wednesday

Boone said the plan is to call up righthander Asher Wojciechowski from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start against the Phillies on Wednesday.

Wojciechowski, 32, was with the Yankees in spring training. In parts of four seasons, he is 9-15 with a 5.95 ERA in 57 games (34 starts) for the Astros, Reds and Orioles.

Wojciechowski is 0-1, 5.68 in four games (three starts) for Scranton.

O’Day’s bad day

Darren O’Day’s first Yankee season officially will end on Wednesday when the 38-year-old reliever undergoes surgery to repair a left hamstring injury. He had the same surgery on the same hamstring in 2018.

O’Day, who signed a one-year, $3.15 million contract with a $1.4-million player option for 2022, appeared in 12 games. He had no record and a 3.38 ERA. He said he doesn’t know if he is going to try to come back next season.

"The decision [to have surgery is tough because of the point I’m at in my career," he said. "But speaking with these surgeons, if I ever want to play baseball again or if I want to live the life I want to live post-baseball, I have to get it fixed. I’ve given [next season] a lot of thought, actually, and still haven’t come up with the right answer. So I’m terrible at big decisions like that and that’s actually the first thing I thought of when I did it."

Trainer’s room

Boone said Luke Voit (left knee inflammation) is feeling "significantly better" after having a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Friday . . . Miguel Andujar (left wrist sprain) has started swinging a bat again . . . OF Tim Locastro will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn right ACL.

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