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Aaron Boone said he regrets his decision to have Aroldis Chapman walk Carlos Santana intentionally in the ninth inning on Wednesday, a move that backfired, when Chapman walked the next batter, Sebastian Rivero, to blow a lead against the Royals.
The Yankees wound up winning the game in the bottom of the inning, but Chapman was visibly upset both on the mound and afterwards in the dugout with being instructed to issue a free pass to Santana to load the bases after he and Boone decided to attack the hitter during a mound visit before the at-bat.
“He was upset and understandably so,” Boone said Thursday before the Yankees played Kansas City again in The Bronx. “He wanted to pitch to Santana. Even in hindsight — not just because it didn’t work out — I think the right move was probably to let him pitch to [Santana].”
Boone said he changed his mind when he returned to the dugout and saw the dangerous Santana in the batter’s box, with the inexperienced Rivero on deck, having replaced the injured Salvador Perez earlier in the game.
“I just decided when I got back to the bench, I didn’t want Santana, since it was a little bit of a unique situation with Perez out of the game, I didn’t want to see [Santana] beat us in that spot or [Chapman] be too careful and lead to a wild pitch,’’ Boone said. “It was a decision I made in the moment and after sleeping on it, I probably should’ve gone the other way.”
Boone said he and Chapman talked “at length” Wednesday night and the two were “all good.”
Chapman hasn’t spoken since the game.
After the intentional walk to Santana, Chapman walked Rivero on four pitches — none of which were close — to force in the tying run. Ryan O’Hearn then hit a dribbler to third that went for an infield hit to drive in the go-ahead run.
An angry Chapman was seen yelling in the dugout after the inning, but the Yankees came back in the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying homer by Gary Sanchez and a game-winning single by Luke Voit.
“Frustration boils over,” Boone said of Chapman’s reaction. “We’re playing for a lot. Sometimes you’re gonna get upset.”
Still, it was the latest setback for Chapman, who has allowed five earned runs over his past 5 ¹/₃ innings, struck out six and given up 11 hits. His ERA has risen to 2.54 over that stretch. In his first 23 innings, he gave up just one earned run, allowed seven hits and struck out 43.
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