Zack Britton told Aaron Boone he didn’t deserve to be the Yankees’ interim closer. He was tasked with getting the final three outs Saturday night anyway.
After Chad Green blew the save, offering up a two-out, two-strike, game-tying homer to Jose Abreu, Britton was called upon in the 10th and nearly flushed another win.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Albert Abreu bailed out Britton, notching his first major league save in a dramatic 7-5 win in 10 innings over the White Sox 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.”
Before the game, Boone said he would be using Green or Jonathan Loaisiga as his closer until Aroldis Chapman (left elbow inflammation) was ready to return. Britton had blown two of his three save opportunities — he allowed Tim Anderson’s walk-off homer in Thursday’s “Field of Dreams” game — and had struggled immensely during his injury-fractured season. After Thursday’s loss, he spoke to Boone about his problems.
“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.”
The 33-year-old Britton’s issues continued Saturday. He retired just one of the four batters he faced, allowing one hit and two walks, and left with the bases loaded and one out. Boone said the Yankees would take a look at Britton physically, but he believes the left-hander is healthy.
“I know no one is going to work harder than Zack at this,” Boone said.
Until Green’s blown save, it looked like the Yankees were going to stay away from the struggling Britton. Boone went to southpaw Wandy Peralta with two on and two outs in the seventh. Peralta got Yoan Moncada to ground out to end the threat and was lifted with two outs in the eighth for Green.
But after the Yankees scored three runs in the 10th, and had already used Green and Loaisiga, Boone called upon Britton. After Moncada flew out, Britton walked Brian Goodwin, allowed a run-scoring single to Luis Robert and walked Andrew Vaughn.
In came the 25-year-old Abreu, who enabled the Yankees to even the series by getting Seby Zavala on a line out and Anderson on a groundout.
“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.
— Additional reporting by Dan Martin in Chicago