Chad Green threw one immaculate inning but, really, his entire performance was perfectly ordered.
Just when it seemed like no one in the once-vaunted Yankees bullpen could get key outs anymore, Green tossed three hitless, scoreless innings to help salvage a doubleheader split with a 4-2 victory in the nightcap against the Mets on Sunday in The Bronx. He threw 27 of 35 pitches for strikes to earn the win and close the door.
“Terrific command really from jump street,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Throwing the ball where and how he wanted to, mixing the curveball in with locating the fastball how he needed to.”
There is no overestimating how important Green was after Aroldis Chapman’s second horrific blown save in a five-day span soured the first game for the Yankees. After Jonathan Loaisiga threw 41 pitches and allowed the tying runs to score in the opener — rendering him unavailable for the nightcap — Green actually sandwiched in one out before Chapman failed to protect a 5-4 lead in an eventual 10-5 loss.
“We’ve had some pretty devastating losses the past few games; games we should’ve won that we just weren’t able to get done,” said Green, who struck out six. “I was just going to go as long as I could.”
Because he had not pitched since last Monday, Green knew going into the twin bill that he could be forced to pull double duty. He was so sharp in the nightcap that he struck out the side in the sixth inning on the nine-pitch minimum.
“That’s pretty cool,” Green said. “I think being able to land the breaking ball behind in the count got me back into some counts, and I was able to get some quick outs and keep the pitch count down.”
Even after Green’s nine-pitch perfection, Boone said he had deliberated over sending him back for the seventh. Even with no trusted alternative.
“It’s his decision,” Green said, “but as soon as he asked if I was good to go, I said yes. We just left it at that.”
Green (3-4) last pitched three innings in a regular-season game on Sept. 18, 2019.
“He certainly wanted the ball and went out and was dominant and efficient there in that [last] inning,” Boone said. “Just a huge effort for us.”
Boone explained that he didn’t stick with Green in the first game — despite Chapman’s ongoing struggles — because he was planning for two games. Green’s performance is sure to have fans clamoring for him to take over as the closer, but Boone mentioned Green, Loaisiga and Chapman all are under consideration for the next save opportunity.
“Chapman is the closer,” Green said. “That’s a discussion to be had if they feel like they need to, but I think we all go through rough points throughout the season. We still have faith in Chapman. His stuff is still really good. We have no doubt he is going to work through it and be good to go the rest of the year.”
The Yankees took a red-eye flight to Seattle after the game. Uncomfortable, yes. But because of Green?
“It makes sleeping a little easier tonight,” he admitted.
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