Cora 3, Boone 0.

Before we get to how Alex Cora out managed Aaron Boone last night, I have a question for you:

For those of you who still believe in “clutch”: Which player last night made the play that had the biggest impact on his team’s chances of winning the game?  In other words, who had the at-bat that swung his team’s win probability the most?  By definition, that would be the most important at bat of the game and therefore the most clutch.  Think about it, we’ll come back to it…

Alex Cora out managed Aaron Boone over 162 games last season, then again in the playoffs.  Last night, he toyed with Boone again, and in the process, helped his chances of winning the war even if this particular battle was lost.

In the top of the 6th inning, Yankee starter James Paxton retired Boston’s 1, 2, and 3 batters – Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez – in a row.  At that point, the Yankees’ win probability was 96%.

And out came Chris Sale.  Because Alex Cora knows this particular game was lost, barring multiple bizarre things happening.  In came Erasmo Ramirez.  He of the career below league average adjusted ERA over 640 career innings pitched and currently pitcher number 13 on a 13 man Boston staff.  In fact, he’s so far down on the Sawx’ bullpen depth chart that he’s thrown only two more innings this season than Eduardo Nunez.  Yes, that Eduardo Nunez.

Alex Cora may have known the game was lost, but the Yankees’ woefully and constantly uninformed and unaware leader did not.  Because even after a Mike Tauchman home run sent the Yankees’ win probability to 99%, in stayed James Paxton.  James Paxton, currently the Yankees best pitcher on a 13 man staff.  From that point – the essentially guaranteed a win, whether Paxton, you are I was pitching point – Big Maple faced seven more batters and threw 28 more pitches.  Even after a Gleyber Torres, home run made the win probability 100%, Boone kept Paxton in the game.

Twenty.  Eight.  Pitches.  In a game that was already decided.

Bottom line?  Paxton threw 110 pitches over 8 innings, meaning that at some point the Yankees may need him to pitch one inning deeper or throw 10-15 more pitches in a tight game – and he won’t be able to because of season inning and pitch counts.

Conversely, Sale pitched 5 innings, faced 23 batters and threw 93 pitches.  So at some point soon, if the Sawx need him to extend an inning or two and 15-20 pitches, he can.  Cora saved his bullets for another day when a game will be played where the outcome will still be in doubt.  And when that time comes, he’ll have his biggest gun available to use.  Aaron Boone will not.

You use your best pitchers when the game is in doubt.  You take them out or leave them out when the game is no longer in doubt.  This is not atom splitting.  But Aaron Boone, like Joe Girardi before him, doesn’t understand this, and it’s putting the Yankees in a hole.

So who came up with the most clutch hit in last night’s game?

Xander Bogaerts.  Yes, seriously.

Top of the 4th, Yankees leading 2-0, Mookie Betts on first, no outs.  Xander Bogaerts doubled, sending Betts to third.  And with that, the Red Sox’ win probability went from 32% to 44%, making it the biggest swing in win probability in the game.  I.e, the most clutch hit.

So if you guessed Bogaert’s double was the most clutch at-bat of the night, I’ll hear your thoughts on it (I’m guessing you went with Frazier’s home run or Paxton striking out Mitch Moreland with 2 out and 2 on).  Until then, we don’t know what the most crucial at-bats are of the game until after the fact.  And a reminder:  Players are not clairvoyant.

Random thoughts:

I was out last night and got in the car and turned the game on the radio at 7:08 pm.  John Sterling was suggesting the Yankees bunt.

Speaking of which, bullpen management wasn’t Boone’s only issue last night.  Once again, 1st and 2nd, nobody out against the Red Sox worst pitcher, and…bunt…(pinches bridge of nose…)

Every time I’m not watching Mookie Betts he must be the right field version of Willie Mays.  I write this, because every time I see him, he misjudges a ball in the air and/or makes a crap throw.  Last night he did both.


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