What the hell was Aaron Boone thinking?

Let’s get one thing straight: tonight was the most mismanaged postseason game in New York Yankees history. Was Joe Girardi’s non-challenge in Cleveland horrible last year? Yes. Was this worse? Absolutely. Girardi’s decision cost his team four runs, Boone’s decision to leave Luis Severino in two innings too long cost his team upwards of nine runs. Boone has often been unfairly criticized in his first year at the helm of the Yankees, but he deserves everything he is going to get for this atrocity. His team got embarrassed tonight, and he was the central cause.
Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/North jersey.com
Our story begins at approximately 7:32pm. On the TBS broadcast, analyst Ron Darling noticed that Yankees’ starter Luis Severino didn’t begin his warmup until roughly eight minutes before the scheduled 7:40pm first pitch. In the bullpen, pitching coach Larry Rothschild was shown reminding him of the start time. Could it be possible that Severino thought that first pitch wasn’t until 8:00pm? If so, that is a great precursor for the incompetence that would be on display over the next hour or so.
(Update: Boone said Severino went through his usual warmup tonight. Whether or not you want to believe that is up to you.)

In the first inning, Luis Severino retired the Boston Red Sox on 15 pitches, while walking one and allowing no hits. On the surface, that sounds good. However, anyone who has watched Severino in his second-half swoon could see that he simply didn’t have it tonight. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both cracked shots to the warning track that may have been out on less muggy nights, and Boston’s hitters didn’t swing and miss at a single pitch. Severino clearly wasn’t sharp, and you wonder how much of a role his abbreviated warmup played in that.

In the second inning, the façade wore off. Severino allowed one run on two hits and threw 29 pitches. And that came against the significantly weaker bottom-half of Boston’s lineup. At this point, it was clear to everyone that Severino was not the same pitcher we saw last Wednesday in the Wild Card game. In all honesty, I did not want the young right-hander to come back out for the third inning. At the very least, he should’ve had an extremely short leash of one or two hitters with the top of the Red Sox lineup due up. Chad Green should’ve been ready to come in as soon as Betts ripped a single to left to lead off the third. He was not.
Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP
In the third inning, Severino allowed two more runs on three hits, and the entire time all I could think was, “how can the manager of the New York Yankees not see what is so plainly obvious to most of the fan base?” I was also thinking that the team was fortunate it was somehow only 3-0, and as long the bullpen held down the fort like they did in game one, this was still very much a game. Apparently, Aaron Boone didn’t agree.

The ensuing move to leave Severino in the game after laboring through the second and third innings suggested the Yankees were playing for tomorrow, which is inexcusable. I understand the bullpen was always going to be heavily used with CC Sabathia scheduled to start game four, but this team has enough relief arms to navigate through two games of “bullpenning.” You don’t count out the second-highest scoring offense in Major League Baseball down three runs in the third inning. You just don’t. Aaron Boone inexplicably did. 
Photo Credit: Kevin R. Wexler/North Jersey.com
When Severino came out for the fourth inning, I would imagine that even the most optimistic of Yankees fans knew that the proverbial shit was about to hit the fan. Somehow, Boone didn’t even have someone warmed up and ready to come in at that point. Severino had to allow the first three men of the inning to reach base before he was pulled. And the final mind-boggling decision of the night came when Boone opted to bring in mop-up long man Lance Lynn to come in over electric relievers like Chad Green, David Robertson and Dellin Betances. Once again, this was a sign that Boone put no faith in his team to come back, and conceded the game down 3-0 in the third. In the end, the Yankees gave up seven runs in the fourth inning, fell behind 10-0, and were well on their way to infamy barely an hour into the ballgame.

Considering he watched his team nearly erase a 5-0 sixth inning deficit at Fenway on Friday night, it truly is unthinkable that the game could have been managed like this. It was a punch in the gut of the worst variety, and it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Yankees to turn around in 21 hours to get ready to play an elimination game. Don’t get me wrong, this is a resilient Yankees bunch, but I don’t think anyone could blame them if they don’t come to the park with much fire tomorrow. Tonight, their manager stole that fire right from them.

Article by: Jake Graziano


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