Aaron Boone on latest Yankees bullpen implosion: 'Another gut punch'

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Yankees Brooks Kriske pitches in road uniform
Yankees Brooks Kriske pitches in road uniform

Thursday night was the fourth time in the Yankees' last 16 games where they lost a game where they had a lead heading into the ninth inning.

Three of those losses, including Thursday's 5-4 10-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox, was with a ninth-inning lead of at least two runs.

"Another gut punch. Lot of good things that went on tonight, and an out away there," manager Aaron Boone said. "They put together some really good at-bats there in the ninth. It certainly stings on a long night here and looking like you’re gonna get out of here with the first game of this series, but we also gotta get over this, and we’ve got a big weekend ahead of us.”

Luis Cessa threw just five pitches in the eighth inning, but Boone went with Chad Green for the save -- Boone notably, and almost regrettably, didn't use Green on Wednesday against the Phillies so Green could be available for most of the Boston series.

Even with 20/20 hindsight, Boone said he had no intention of pitching Cessa in the ninth.

“I felt good about Greeny in a save situation tonight. It was gonna be Cessa there in the eighth. And remember, Cessa’s coming off of two days ago throwing 30 pitches, so I was a little reluctant to throw him out for a second, especially when I got Greeny sitting there. I’m not gonna not send Greeny out there in a save situation when I’ve got him there," Boone said.

And as for Green, Boone did not think he was all that bad.

"I actually thought he threw the ball really well tonight. I thought he was crisp. I just thought they put some really good swings on him. I thought he was sharper tonight than say, in Houston when he was struggling out there to find it a little bit. I didn’t think that was the case tonight. I just thought they put a few really good swings on balls to square him up.”

Green, of course, allowed two runs in the ninth to squander the game. In the 10th, Brooks Kriske became the first pitcher ever to throw four wild pitches in an extra inning, en route to the loss.

“It was just pure execution. It’s part of the game. Obviously, I got to do a better job," Kriske said.

Boone and Kriske both felt that it wasn't too big of a moment for the reliever who has pitched in just 11 games -- it was simply just missing pitches.

"He’s in a similar situation last night and really delivered. So it’s a tough situation for him to be in. At times, his issue is struggling with command, but I don’t necessarily think it was necessarily a moment issue. Just struggling a little bit tonight," Boone added.

The bullpen has taken its hits -- no pun intended. Aroldis Chapman has been at times unusable, and Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, and Wandy Peralta all have COVID-19.

The last few weeks have been quite the mishmosh of mixing and matching.

“Part of that is when you have guys absent, everyone kind of protects each other a little bit. And that’s why you got to lean on an entire bullpen to get big outs in different spots, and when you have a few key guys missing, you gotta rely a little heavier, and that’s when guys can become vulnerable. We gotta keep at it and keep grinding, and we have the people down there certainly to close these things out."

But the Yankees do have their ace in Gerrit Cole on the mound on Friday.

“Look, in this stretch of baseball where we’ve played really well and won a lot of games, we’ve also had some incredibly tough losses like tonight," Boone said. "And time and time again, the guys have bounced back, and that’s what we expect to do tomorrow.”