Aaron Boone was told by Zack Britton that he didn’t deserve to be the Yankees’ interim closer. On Saturday night, he was tasked with getting the final three outs.
Britton was called upon in the 10th inning after Chad Green blew the save by allowing Jose Abreu to hit a two-out, two-strike game-tying home run.
Albert Abreu bailed out Britton for the Yankees, recording his first major league save in a dramatic 7-5 win over the White Sox in 10 innings in Chicago.
“’Britt’s going through a tough stretch, a tough time. Even when you’re great like him, this game will do that to you,” Boone said. “You got to be able to battle through it, and we’ll be there and try to support him through this. We know how important a role he’s still going to play for us.”
Green or Jonathan Loaisiga would be Boone’s closer until Aroldis Chapman (left elbow inflammation) was ready to return, according to Boone before the game. Britton had blown two of his three save chances, allowing Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run in Thursday’s “Field of Dreams” game, and had struggled mightily throughout his injury-plagued season. He told Boone about his problems after the loss on Thursday.
“I told him I don’t deserve to be out there in the ninth inning,” said Britton, who now has a 6.19 ERA across 16 innings with a sky-high 1.81 WHIP. “Other guys deserve it.”
Britton’s problems persisted on Saturday for the 33-year-old. With the bases loaded and one out, he retired only one of the four batters he faced, allowing one hit and two walks. The Yankees will examine Britton physically, according to Boone, but he believes the left-hander is healthy.
“I know no one is going to work harder than Zack at this,” Boone said.
The Yankees appeared to be staying away from the struggling Britton until Green’s blown save. With two on and two outs in the seventh, Boone turned to southpaw Wandy Peralta. With two outs in the eighth, Peralta was lifted for Green after getting Yoan Moncada to ground out to end the threat.
Boone called on Britton after the Yankees scored three runs in the 10th inning and had already used Green and Loaisiga. Following Moncada’s flyout, Britton walked Brian Goodwin, gave Luis Robert a run-scoring single, and walked Andrew Vaughn.
Abreu, 25, was brought in to help the Yankees tie the series by getting Seby Zavala to line out and Anderson to ground out.
“He stepped up there, showed a lot of heart, a lot of guts and did his thing against one of the best lineups in the game,” Aaron Judge said.