<
>

For Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees, these are disastrous times

BOSTON -- This was a disastrous night for the New York Yankees. That might sound extreme to say during the regular season when it is just one game of 162.

But Friday night was a terrible loss to their rivals, with the ball in their closer's hands with a one-run lead in the ninth and with Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale looming late Saturday afternoon.

The weight of the season is on the Yankees' shoulders right now and they are teetering. And that could lead to being a .500 team by the time this difficult 11-game trip ends ... or maybe worse.

They lost 5-4 to the Red Sox on Friday night. It was their 19th defeat in their past 26 games.

They wanted to try to get the front half of that elusive two-game winning streak, but it still isn't happening. It has been more than a month (June 11-12) since they have won two in a row.

Most worrisome, in terms of the big picture, Aroldis Chapman -- he of the unwise five-year, $86 million contract -- can't miss bats. He couldn't record an out in the ninth, either.

The excuse Yankees manager Joe Girardi offered was that the Red Sox didn't hit a ball out of the infield off of Chapman. Fair point, and Chapman's defense wasn't great behind him, including a Ronald Torreyes error at second, but Chapman walked in the winning run. He is working too deep in counts. He is not intimidating any batters.

He blew his third save out of 11 chances, and the Yankees (45-42) have blown 18 of 35 save chances this season, worst in the majors.

Chapman doesn't know why he can't put guys away anymore.

"That actually is a good question," the 29-year-old lefty said. "I'm going to go back and try to see footage and see why because, honestly, I don't know why."

This would have been a big win, if Gary Sanchez's mammoth, go-ahead fifth-inning home run and the four scoreless innings of relief from Chad Green, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances had held up.

"You have to win those games," Girardi said. "If you want to win championships, you have to win those games."

The Yankees don't look like a championship team and, amazingly when you consider where they were a month ago, might not even be a playoff club. They have lost Michael Pineda for the season with Tommy John surgery expected. First baseman Greg Bird might not be far behind, as he might need surgery that could end his nightmarish year.

Chapman is healthy, according to Girardi and Chapman. He just isn't dominant. It could be the hangover from the extra work he piled up in 2016 helping the Cubs win their first championship in more than a century. Whatever it is, he is not the same, and his contract is long.

"I wasn't as sharp as I would like to be," Chapman said.

The Yankees are now facing what could be an awful weekend that potentially could effectively end their division chances, if they were to get swept. A victory Friday would have prevented that scenario, but now with Sale on Saturday against Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell vs. Rick Porcello and Masahiro Tanaka facing David Price during Sunday's doubleheader, this possibility is still in play. As it is, the Yankees are already trailing the Red Sox by 4½ games.

Girardi tried to play the positive card, as is his wont. He channeled Little Orphan Annie.

"I don't think you can make too much of it," Girardi said. "I really believe I will wake up tomorrow, and I don't know if it it will be sunny, but the sun will come up."

It will probably rain.