A day later, Dellin Betances was still angry.
“It bothered me,” the reliever said Thursday afternoon. “I’m not going to say that it didn’t bother me. As a competitor, you don’t want to get taken out in that situation.”
Betances may have been speaking in the past tense, but he didn’t try to hide his irritation about being removed with two outs in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the Rays.
The situation: Betances came on for the eighth with the Yankees leading 3-1. He got Lucas Duda to fly to center, allowed a single by Evan Longoria and struck out Logan Morrison with a curveball. With righthanded hitter Steven Souza Jr. coming up, Joe Girardi replaced the righthanded Betances with lefthander Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman walked Souza and allowed an RBI single to Adeiny Hechavarria that made it 3-2 before striking out pinch hitter Wilson Ramos to end the inning.
“I think a lot of people were surprised, but I’m not the manager,” said Betances, who went to a three-ball count on two of the three hitters he faced and has walked eight batters in his last nine appearances (8 1⁄3 innings). “At the end of the day, I don’t know what’s going through their heads at that moment. I just felt like for me, I just struck out the last guy, I like my chances against anybody. I was surprised. I was in shock . . . I was definitely frustrated, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands.”
Souza was 3-for-9 with a homer against Betances compared to 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Chapman. Of his 29 home runs, 27 had come against righthanders.
Girardi, while acknowledging the difficulty of the decisions he made Wednesday — he also drew the ire of starter Jaime Garcia when he pulled the lefty with two outs and one on in the fifth — was unapologetic after the game and again Thursday.
“I have to do what my gut tells me. That’s what I’m paid to do,” he said. “It’s a difficult decision, there’s no doubt about it, but this is about winning games. This is not April, June and July. I’m going to have to make some other tough decisions, too, moving forward.”
Girardi said he would be “more upset” if Betances, and Garcia for that matter, were OK with coming out.
“That means they want to come out,’’ he said, “and that would really bother me.”
Girardi said he planned to talk to Betances.
“I don’t know if there’s an explanation that I’m going to take,” Betances said. “But he felt that was the best decision and we won the game. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.”
Informed of the first part of that comment, Girardi smiled.
“That’s great,” he said, “because that means he really believes in his stuff, and that’s what I want.”