BOSTON – It was the chance of a lifetime, even if the circumstances didn’t appear to give the 23-year-old rookie righthander a fighting chance.
The setting was venerable Fenway Park. The opponent was the Red Sox and the vaunted offense that has helped make them by far the best team in the majors this season.
So with no second chance for a first impression, how did Chance Adams do?
“I thought he did well. Even after giving up the home run in the first, he didn’t flinch,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, referencing Mitch Moreland’s two-run shot to right that was enough to make Adams the losing pitcher in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat. “I thought he did a good job of attacking the strike zone and mixing his pitches.”
Adams, drafted in the fifth round by the Yankees in 2015, retired nine straight after Moreland’s homer, then surrendered a solo blast by J.D. Martinez in the fourth. “I thought I made a good pitch to J.D. – a fastball in – but he just ripped it,'' Adams said. "He’s a good hitter.”
He acknowledged that the home run by Moreland was a mistake. “That was a cutter that was supposed to be back door but just went over the middle,” Adams said.
He wound up pitching five innings, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out two. He showed good control, throwing 53 of his 83 pitches for strikes.
Earlier in the season, when the Yankees were belting home runs at a record pace and scoring in bunches, Adams’ performance and a dominant bullpen might’ve been a recipe for victory. But not against Boston, which has taken the first three games of this series and leads the Yankees by 8 ½ games in the American League East race. Not when the team is struggling to score runs and is 18-19 in its last 37 games.
“If you would’ve told me three runs through five innings for him, his first time out against that lineup, I would’ve taken that,” Boone said. “Obviously, we needed to support him with more offense.”
The Yankees didn’t score until the ninth inning, so Adams’ debut would have had to be spectacular to give his team a chance to win. But there were flashes of the pitcher the Yankees believe will be a big-time starter, prompting them to hang on to him in trade talks the last couple of years.
His fastball topped out at 94 mph with movement, and he showed off a cutter and curve. He struck out Moreland in the at-bat after his home run and also whiffed Mookie Betts, Boston’s elite leadoff batter.
“Ro [catcher Austin Romine] came in a couple of times and said, ‘His stuff’s really good,’ '' Boone said. “His fastball was moving all over the place, cutting and sinking a little bit.”
All in all, this Chance encounter, which followed a long drive from Pennsylvania to Boston late Friday, was eventful.
“A lot of fun,” Adams said.
Good enough to earn a second chance?