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Yanks headed to playoffs for 4th year in row

@BryanHoch
September 20, 2020

Evaluating Deivi García’s first five Major League starts, the Yankees have glowed about a presence that manager Aaron Boone describes as “unflappable.” There will inevitably be days that include struggles, as on Sunday, but they continue to believe that no moment is too great for the touted right-hander. And they

Evaluating Deivi García’s first five Major League starts, the Yankees have glowed about a presence that manager Aaron Boone describes as “unflappable.” There will inevitably be days that include struggles, as on Sunday, but they continue to believe that no moment is too great for the touted right-hander.

And they will certainly need that to be the case going forward, now that the Yankees have clinched a postseason berth after the Mariners lost to the Padres on Sunday. This marks the Yankees’ fourth consecutive playoff trip, and their 22nd in the last 26 years.

García endured the first rough outing of his young career, serving up a pair of Michael Chavis homers in the Yankees’ 10-2 loss at Fenway Park, snapping a 10-game winning streak. It marked Boston’s first victory over New York in 13 tries dating to last year.

Box score

“Some pitches were there for me, and some were not,” García said through a translator. “I had a tough time putting a string of quality pitches and finding the aggressiveness that I would like. You’ve got to take this experience, turn the page and focus on the next start.”

Luke Voit added to his Major League-leading home run total, sending his 21st over the Green Monster in the ninth inning.

“We’re going to try to win games,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We’d love to have those [Wild Card] games at home -- not at the expense of anyone, but our guys should be good and ready to go.”

It had been a dream for García to toss from the mound at Fenway, where his idol Pedro Martinez once starred for the Red Sox.

Wearing Martinez’s uniform No. 45 on his belt and schooled on great New York-Boston battles of yesteryear, García was unable to navigate past the third inning, with Chavis driving in five of the six runs against him.

“You understand the history, everything that [Martinez] did here at Fenway Park,” García said. “It was an important moment for me and my family, although the outing did not turn out the way I wanted it to.”

Curiously, García was reluctant to use his curveball, rated as one of the best in the organization. He snapped off only four, instead relying on his fastball (48) and changeup (18) in a 76-pitch effort, with six sliders. Boone said he thought García’s fastball lacked some of its usual life.

“We were being aggressive with pitches, but we were missing location with it, especially with the fastball,” catcher Gary Sánchez said. “There were a couple of breaking pitches that were high in the zone, and that’s where the homers came in.”

Despite the rough performance, García is a frontline candidate to start in the postseason. Boone has aligned right-handers Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka to start the first two games of a potential Wild Card round, and it seems likely that either García or left-hander J.A. Happ would get the third game.

“From a psyche standpoint, I feel confident that he’ll be fine bouncing back in whatever scenario we put him in,” Boone said.

Silent sticks

The Yankees entered play with 21 home runs in their past five games, having outscored opponents by an 85-25 margin during their winning streak, but they did not notch a hit until Tyler Wade’s double to lead off the sixth inning on Sunday.

Boston right-hander Tanner Houck limited New York to an unearned run and one hit over six frames.

“He’s got good stuff,” Boone said. “I thought we expanded [the strike zone] a little bit on some pitches off the plate. He was tough.”

In the ninth inning, Voit extended his Major League home run lead to three over José Abreu (18) of the White Sox.

Kratz all, folks

The lopsided score presented third-string catcher Erik Kratz with an opportunity for his sixth career pitching appearance and first as a Yankee.

“It’s not the situation you want to be in, down that many runs,” Kratz said. “You’ve just got to try to enjoy it when you get that opportunity.”

Kratz served up a J.D. Martinez homer in a 21-pitch eighth inning that included eight knuckleballs, clocked between 55.6 mph and 68.5 mph.

“One of the things I love about Erik Kratz is, there’s no hiding the joy he has playing the game,” Boone said.

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