EditorsNote: adds new graf just before notes with Boston’s win
Chapman closes out Yankees’ win over Twins
NEW YORK — If Dellin Betances loaded the bases in the eighth inning of a one-run game in May or June, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi might have let him attempt to escape the mess.
With two weeks left in the regular season and the Yankees trying to reach the playoffs via wild card or a division title, Girardi wasn’t messing around when Betances wobbled Monday night.
Aroldis Chapman entered to escape the jam and record the final five outs, and New York held on for a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Chapman came on after Betances was booed off the mound for hitting Robbie Grossman with a pitch and issuing walks to pinch hitter Max Kepler and Brian Dozier.
“Today my timing was off,” Betances said. “I yanked too many pitches. I can’t put my team in a situation like that.”
Chapman quickly erased Betances’ mess by throwing four pitches clocked at 100 mph or higher. He struck out left-handed-hitting Joe Mauer on three pitches and retired Byron Buxton on a harmless fly ball to right field.
“I’d love to have that opportunity again, but he made his pitches,” Mauer said.
Chapman then threw a hitless ninth and notched his 19th save by fanning Eduardo Escobar on a 103 mph fastball as the Yankees (83-67) moved five games ahead of the Twins (78-72) in the race for the top American League wild card.
“Those are two big outs, and then to get the final three, just a huge performance by (Chapman),” Girardi said.
Added Betances: “Thank God, we got the win. It would been a tough one to swallow.”
The escape act enabled the Yankees to exhale after winning for the 13th time in 18 games in a possible wild-card game preview, where Girardi likely would ask Chapman to get a multi-inning save if necessary.
“I knew those guys were very fresh,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “Not untypical for (Girardi) to go with him, especially with Betances having struggles with command tonight.”
It was Chapman’s second straight save in which he recorded more than three outs. On Wednesday in a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field, Chapman entered with one on and two outs in the eighth and needed 34 pitches to get through seven hitters.
Chapman didn’t pitch as New York earned three lopsided wins over the Baltimore Orioles in a four-game series that ended Sunday. With five days between outings, he threw most of his 16 pitches over 100 mph, continuing a strong month that has seen him throw seven scoreless innings, retire 21 of 25 hitters and record 12 strikeouts in six outings.
Before Betances forced Girardi into using his closer for more than one inning, David Robertson (9-2) recorded the final out of the sixth and pitched a hitless seventh.
The Yankees grabbed a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Todd Frazier lifted a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.
New York had runners at first and second with one out after Chase Headley and Starlin Castro singled off Ervin Santana (15-8). On the next pitch, Santana bounced a slider in the dirt for a wild pitch during an at-bat to Jacoby Ellsbury.
The runners moved up a base, and Ellsbury, who is 10-for-34 off Santana, was intentionally walked. That brought up Frazier, who is 4-for-20 off the right-hander. Santana got the out when the third baseman lifted a 1-1 pitch to center fielder Buxton.
The ball was deep enough, and Headley took off for the plate as soon as it hit Buxton’s glove. Headley slid in as Buxton’s throw was slightly off target.
Before Frazier’s 30th RBI with the Yankees, the teams traded runs in different manners.
Aaron Judge hit his 44th homer two batters into the game. He also committed a fielding error on a fifth-inning single by Escobar, and the Twins tied the game when Eddie Rosario scored on a groundout by Grossman on a ball Frazier dived for.
Jaime Garcia remained winless in seven starts for the Yankees as he allowed an unearned run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out nine without issuing a walk.
Santana allowed two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He fanned three and walked one.
New York remains three games behind the first-round Red Sox in the AL East after Boston earned a 10-8 win at Baltimore on Monday.
NOTES: Twins 3B Miguel Sano (left shin) was in New York to deal with a personal matter, and manager Paul Molitor said the plan was for him to fly back to Minnesota to resume his rehab there. ... New York OF Aaron Hicks (strained left oblique) continued taking swings off a tee and running. Hicks said he is close to taking batting practice on the field. ... Minnesota INF Eduardo Escobar and New York RHP David Robertson are among six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, which honors players for their community service.