Left-hander closes out win over Angels day after costly mistake
By Joshua Needelman
NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi insisted he wasn't going to use closer Aroldis Chapman against the Angels on Monday night. The left-hander had pitched each of the past two games, with the second resulting in his first blown save of the year. He needed a rest.
Nevertheless, with the Yankees holding a lead in the top of the ninth, the flame-thrower jogged in from the bullpen to raucous applause. He needed nine pitches to retire the side and nail down his 10th save of the season in the Yankees' 5-2 win.
"He's a little bit different than most guys that I've had," Girardi said. "He said he was good."
The successful outing was a welcome sight for Girardi, who wasn't pleased with Chapman after Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Orioles.
After allowing a bases-loaded single to pinch-hitter Matt Wieters in the eighth, Chapman did not cover home as center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury's throw sailed over catcher Brian McCann's head, allowing an extra run to score.
"Get your rear end back there," Girardi said he'd tell Chapman for the future.
The mental error proved more significant considering the Yankees' offense finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. In addition, Dellin Betances' recent struggles continued, ending a rocky road trip for the right-hander.
Chapman entered after a lengthy rain delay, forced to work with two runners left on base from Betances and preserve the Yankees' 1-0 lead. Wieters' single allowed two runs to score easily, but the third scored while McCann went to retrieve the errant throw.
The Yankees' closer stood idle near the mound, only jogging toward home once the bail sailed away.
"[A] 3-1 [deficit] is a lot different than 2-1," Girardi said.
But that didn't stop New York from turning to the electric lefty with the game on the line Monday. Chapman was asked to preserve the lead one inning after Andrew Miller struck out the side in a scoreless eighth to earn the victory.
The Yankees also benefited from a rare power surge, with three late homers rallying them to the win.
Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.