The full house at Yankee Stadium didn’t get to see the historic Aaron Judge home run they came for Friday night. Instead, the Bombers revealed the weakness that could cost them a long post-season run. The Orioles defeated the Yankees 2-1 at the Stadium on Friday night.
Aaron Judge, who tied the 61-year-old American League and Yankee record for home runs in one season on Wednesday night, was 1-for-2 with a single and two walks while remaining tied at 61 and tied with Yankee great Roger Maris.
But Friday night, when the Yankees lost for the second time in their last 11 games, there was a big red flag with the Bombers bullpen. Zack Britton, who hoped to be an option for the Yankees in the playoffs, left the game in the middle of an at bat with what the Yankees said was “left arm fatigue.” And after the game, Aaron Boone confirmed he didn’t have Clay Holmes, because he suffers from a strain in his shoulder. Holmes later said it was in his rotator cuff. Holmes will not be allowed to throw for “about a week” and will not be available until the Yankees division series.
“I mean, it is what it is. We try to get them all healthy and ready and as good options. We still feel like we have really good options there. So there’s no point in crying about what you have or don’t have, you have to make the most of what you do have,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “And the reality is we still have a lot of really talented guys there. And like Clay for example. I really feel like it comes back in that mix as well.”
Holmes said he felt it when he threw a clean inning on Monday-evening, but didn’t think he could throw another effective inning. Thursday he had an MRI and a cortisone injection.
“I’m very optimistic,” Holmes said of his return to the Division Series. “I said something when I had to become something important. So that’s the plan now to be ready for the Division Series. From there we work a bit backwards.”
The Yankees are using these last six games as an opportunity to evaluate their options. That’s why Britton was there for his third appearance since Tommy John’s surgery. The Yankees said the surgically repaired elbow was fine, but they would see how it was on Saturday.
They are also looking at whether DJ LeMahieu can contribute. He walked off the injured list on Friday night, going 0-for-3 before being drawn in the eighth in his first game since September 4. He has been playing for the All-Star since due to a painful inflammation in his right big/second toe. break, when he got a cortisone shot to try to get some relief. Lately, the Yankees have been talking about ways to limit the pain, including shots.
These last few games of the season will be a test for LeMahieu, who recently admitted he will be “useless” to the Yankees if he can’t get a good swing. The torque on the toe during swings was a particularly difficult point for him. So he will see if he can contribute enough to be on the play-off list. LeMahieu admitted the injury hit him and hurt him as he tries to push off on his swing.
“I mean, more than anything, because of course he hasn’t had many live at bats. He was just starting to hit the machines and wasn’t really grinding on at bats,” Boone said. “So today. was the first day I really went after it and saw live pitching. So more than anything. I want to see how he reacts, how does he feel tomorrow? That kind of thing.”
The Yankees also got a look at Chapman, who was their closer until they lost confidence this season. On Friday-evening, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
“He didn’t have his great fastball. He came in and fell behind and was still able to navigate back to the count and make some throws,” Boone said. “You know, he obviously had a pick-off there. So yeah, I mean, on a night when he didn’t necessarily have his really good stuff, he could still navigate and that’s important.