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Clippard bounces back, but Betances falters

After veteran Yanks reliever escapes 8th, young righty allows walk-off hit
MLB.com @BryanHoch

CHICAGO -- The folded piece of cardboard in Joe Girardi's pocket offered a reminder that he could not call Aroldis Chapman's name, which is why Dellin Betances remained seated as rookie Domingo German and the struggling Tyler Clippard tried to protect a two-run lead in the eighth inning on Tuesday.

When Clippard wriggled free with just one run home, the Yankees thought they had cleared the roughest neighborhood they'd see. Then Betances coughed up the lead in the ninth, permitting Jose Abreu's walk-off two-run single in a 4-3 Yankees loss at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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CHICAGO -- The folded piece of cardboard in Joe Girardi's pocket offered a reminder that he could not call Aroldis Chapman's name, which is why Dellin Betances remained seated as rookie Domingo German and the struggling Tyler Clippard tried to protect a two-run lead in the eighth inning on Tuesday.

When Clippard wriggled free with just one run home, the Yankees thought they had cleared the roughest neighborhood they'd see. Then Betances coughed up the lead in the ninth, permitting Jose Abreu's walk-off two-run single in a 4-3 Yankees loss at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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"I just feel like I became very predictable," Betances said. "These guys are smart hitters. Sometimes they don't get you; this time they got me."

Thirteen of Betances' 21 pitches were breaking balls, including each of the last nine. After getting a quick first out, Betances walked Kevan Smith on four pitches and then issued a six-pitch free pass to Alen Hanson before plunking Yolmer Sanchez with a curve to load the bases.

Melky Cabrera flew to left for the second out, but Betances fell behind Abreu 2-1 and snapped off a curve that caught too much plate. Abreu whacked it into left field for the game-winner, handing the Yanks their first loss in 31 games this season when leading after eight innings.

 

"I've got to be able to rely on my fastball more, obviously," Betances said. "I got too breaking ball-happy. I know I've got a good fastball, I've been using it this year. I feel like I never really went to it and I got myself in trouble."

Girardi said that he could not use Chapman, who threw 14 pitches on Sunday and 20 on Monday. Betances was working for a third straight game, having thrown 14 pitches on Sunday and 11 on Monday, but his workload has been light this month.

Girardi added that he was not going to use Chad Green, who threw 29 pitches on Sunday against Texas. Instead, Girardi tried to slip by the eighth with German, saying that he liked the rookie's power and his changeup. Back-to-back walks prompted a quick hook.

"After he walked the two guys, I said, 'Heck, I'm just going to go with Clip,'" Girardi said. "This might be what gets him going."

Clippard had struggled mightly in his past six outings, allowing 11 earned runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings (27.00 ERA), and it looked like more of the same when he uncorked a wild pitch and walked Cabrera on four pitches.

But he zipped a 91.1 mph fastball past Abreu for strike three and got Avisail Garcia to fly out before losing Todd Frazier on a close 3-2 pitch that home-plate umpire Joe West didn't like, forcing home a run.

"Those were borderline calls, man. It was kind of a tight zone," Clippard said. "Not to say that he missed a bunch, but they were calls that could have gone either way and we didn't really get any of them."

Clippard then battled Matt Davidson in a 10-pitch at-bat, getting the strikeout on a 78.4 mph changeup, and said he "felt like myself again."

The Yanks have tallied 14 blown saves through 75 games; they had just five over that same span last year. Betances said that the bullpen remains confident in its abilities.

"Obviously, a lot of these losses were tough, but it's a long season," Betances said. "We've got to keep going and try to be better next time."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard