NEW YORK -- Following a successful rookie campaign that saw his team win 100 games and get to the postseason, Aaron Boone will have a lot to reflect on during his first full offseason as the Yankees' manager.
Games 3 and 4 of the American League Division Series should provide plenty of material all by themselves.
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After being second-guessed for his decision to send Luis Severino back to the mound for the fourth inning in Game 3 on Monday night, Boone was left to defend himself again after the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in Game 4 on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Boone left a struggling Carsten Sabathia in the game during the third inning, giving the Red Sox a chance to score three runs in what became a 4-3 Boston win that sent New York home for the offseason.
Taking the mound for the first time in 12 days, Sabathia got through the first two innings without allowing a run, leaving the bases loaded in the first and working around a walk of No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez in the second.
Sabathia hit Andrew Benintendi to start the third, then Steve Pearce singled up the middle, putting runners at the corners. J.D. Martinez lifted a hard-hit sacrifice fly -- it registered an exit velocity of 98.7 mph -- to score the game's first run, prompting Boone to get Player Page for David Robertson up in the bullpen.
Xander Bogaerts grounded out to first, moving Pearce to second on the play. Ian Kinsler laced a double over Brett Gardner's head in left field, scoring Pearce for a 2-0 lead. Kinsler's hit was 106.2 mph off the bat, the highest exit velocity recorded by the veteran infielder since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015.
"I was fine with the way CC was throwing the ball," Boone said. "He was at the two-out point. We were going to have him go through [No. 8 hitter Jackie] Bradley, simple as that. … We just kind of knew we had our guys lined up enough that we could get through the game. I think it was a sound decision to move him, allow him to go through Bradley at that point."
Eduardo Nunez jumped on the first pitch he saw, lining a single to left field that scored Kinsler for a 3-0 Boston lead. Boone said he didn't consider lifting Sabathia to let Robertson face either Kinsler or Nunez.
"Had he gotten Nunez, it might have been the end of his night, but once Nunez got the hit, we weren't going to go to the 'pen there," Boone said. "We were going to let him face Bradley, the lefty, there."
Sabathia retired Bradley on a ground ball to first to escape the inning, but that was the last pitch he threw. As he walked into the dugout, Sabathia was quickly met by Boone, who patted him on the shoulder to tell him his night -- possibly the final time the impending free agent would pitch in pinstripes -- was finished.
"I hadn't been out there in a little while, but I felt good," Sabathia said. "I've got no complaints. They hit some soft contact. Kinsler hit that ball hard, but the rest of that, I'll take that any day."
Sabathia allowed three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out one batter and hitting another. With their season on the line, the Yankees went to their bullpen to open the fourth, but some will surely wonder whether Boone should have had a quicker hook in an elimination game.
Zach Britton, who began warming up when the top of the third ended, took over for the Yankees in the top of the fourth, promptly allowing a solo home run by Vazquez that proved to be the decisive run.