Verdugo’s brace, who broke the wall in front of the paddock in right field, led the Yankees to bring in Loaisiga for his second appearance since a stint on the Covid injured list. Typically, Boone had to use it for at least three batters – but he saved it for a fourth straight hit, a brace from Enrique Hernandez.
In this case, Boone said, he liked the straight-right match. With no outs and runners in the second and third, Boone called in left-hander Britton, a ground ball specialist, but only moved the corner players. A gentle, routine Grounder to stop the game.
“Looking back, that’s what I’m wondering about: should we have sold without any withdrawals there?” said Boone. “It is certainly debatable.”
The Yankees expect to activate outfielder Aaron Judge and wide receiver Kyle Higashioka from the Covid injured list this week against the Rays, and third baseman Gio Urshela returned on Sunday. But after nearly 100 games – a familiar and heartwarming reference, whatever your interest – it is clearly a two-team race for the division title.
Worse yet, for the Yankees, the Rays and Red Sox are only getting better. Tampa Bay has just traded with Minnesota for a first hitter, Nelson Cruz, and the Red Sox will soon host an ace, Chris Sale, who threw 64 pitches with his rebuilt left elbow in the minors on Sunday.
“There’s only one team that can add Chris Sale, and that’s us,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “And everyone knows what he means.”
The Yankees could counter before Friday’s trade deadline, but it may be too late to tell the difference.