Jameson Taillon, who left his last outing in the third inning after aggravating the partially torn tendon in his right ankle, will start Sunday’s crucial game against the Rays, with a wild-card berth on the line.
The Yankees opted to go with Taillon instead of Gerrit Cole on three-days’ rest. Cole had said he would be ready if needed for Sunday’s game after his last outing, but he has struggled — especially in his past three starts, with 15 earned runs in 17 ²/₃ innings — since suffering a tight left hamstring early last month.
Taillon was sidelined for three weeks by the ankle injury and returned Tuesday. He lasted just 38 pitches, but the Yankees were encouraged by how he felt afterward.
Manager Aaron Boone said after Saturday’s 12-2 loss to Tampa Bay in The Bronx that the Yankees should have most of their high-leverage relievers available Sunday.
Gleyber Torres has played better since his move to second base, but he heard it from the crowd — and Aaron Judge — in the seventh inning. Torres failed to hustle down the line and was thrown out jogging to first after a third strike got away from Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino for the final out of the seventh.
Torres was booed as he walked off the field and Judge spoke to him briefly.
Boone said that since Gary Sanchez was on first base, Torres didn’t initially know he could go to the bag. Normally, a batter can’t advance on a missed third strike if first base is occupied.
“First off, you’ve got to run,’’ Boone said of the play. “But with two outs it’s different. … He caught himself a third of the way down the line and [said] ‘Oh, crap, I’ve got to go. . … He feels terrible about itand it’s something we’ve got to learn from.’ ”
It’s not the first time the Yankees have had to deal with this issue from Torres, who was pulled from a game on Sept. 14 for not running out a ground ball in a win over Baltimore.
The following day, Boone was asked if he was bothered by Torres’ lack of hustle and Boone responded: “A little bit, yeah.”
This time, Boone said he didn’t consider making the same move.
“Not in our situation,’’ Boone said of the blowout. “If I needed a position player to pitch, I needed to keep someone on the bench to bring in.”
Boone added Anthony Rizzo was “ready to go” if needed on the mound.
Overall, Torres’ play has improved considerably following the switch from shortstop to second. He was 5-for-12 with three extra-base hits in three games before Saturday’s loss.
Right-hander Michael King, excellent since his return from a bruised finger, had an ugly outing Saturday, when he allowed three runs in just a third of an inning. Boone said he wanted to stay away from King to keep him available for Sunday, but also wanted to avoid using some of his top bullpen arms.
Prior to Saturday, King had given up just two earned runs and a dozen baserunners in 14 ²/₃ innings, while striking out 14 in seven appearances after returning from the IL.
It’s a bad time for bad Sanchez to show up. Sanchez, whose pinch-hit strikeout helped squander Friday’s ninth-inning rally, had another miserable afternoon Saturday to extend a woeful stretch for the catcher. He struck out, and was booed, to end the bottom of the second and popped to shortstop to end the fourth, stranding Gio Urshela at third. He also grounded into a game-ending double play.
Things weren’t much better behind the plate, as Jordan Montgomery had arguably the worst start of his career and Randy Arozarena stole second and third after his two-out single in the sixth.
Sanchez entered the game 2-for-16 with a pair of walks and 10 strikeouts since his eighth-inning homer on Sept. 22. And Sanchez had also whiffed in five of his previous six plate appearances.
Luke Voit got “good news” on his knee injury, Boone said Saturday, but will still be out “at least a couple weeks.”
Voit was placed on the 10-day IL on Thursday with inflammation in his left knee, the same knee that was surgically repaired in the spring. Voit pinch hit and struck out in the Yankees’ loss Wednesday. He was clearly in pain running to first base following a third strike.
Boone said Saturday that Voit could return “potentially deeper into October. … We’ll see how it unfolds.”
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