Two days after getting closer Aroldis Chapman back from the COVID-19 injury list the Yankees could be losing Zack Britton to the IL with a left hamstring problem.
Britton grabbed the back of his left leg after giving up a run-scoring single to Willy Adames in the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
After Aaron Boone replaced Britton with Jonathan Loaisiga, Britton grimaced as he left the mound.
“We are looking at that right now,’’ Aaron Boone said following the game. “I don’t have anything more right now, but they are looking at him back there.’’
Later, the Yankees announced they will have an update on Britton on Thursday when they attempt to avoid a three-game sweep to the Rays.
Should Britton land on the IL that would likely push Adam Ottavino or Chad Green into the eighth-inning role in front of Chapman. Ottavino has more experience in that spot but Green has been terrific so far this year.
Boone has had plenty of experience with injured players and setbacks, so it is understandable he doesn’t want to say for sure whether Aaron Judge will be in the lineup Saturday at Citi Field against the Mets.
“I think it is still a possibility,’’ Boone said Wednesday about Judge returning the first day he is eligible to come off the IL with a right calf problem. “[Tuesday] he was able to get out and do some running. Early hitting [Wednesday] and throwing, so he is doing well and kind of on that trajectory. That is something we will continue to evaluate day by day as we get closer to Saturday.’’
In the six games Judge has missed going into Wednesday night’s action Boone started Clint Frazier in right field in four tilts and Mike Tauchman in two. Frazier was in right field Wednesday night and went 0-for-2 before Tauchman hit for him in the seventh.
The Yankees franchise record of not losing a home series in 27 tries ended Wednesday evening.
If Mike Ford has a bigger backer than Boone in the Yankees’ organization that person hasn’t stepped forward.
Boone has often said Ford could be a force in the middle of other major league lineups. Of course, with the Yankees the left-handed hitting first baseman needs injuries to get regular playing time.
Wednesday night Boone put his pen where his mouth has been when he inserted Ford into the cleanup spot against Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow.
Last Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in the first game of a doubleheader Ford homered off Glasnow.
“He can really hit. He has got real pull power and really knows the strike zone and that is a dangerous combination,’’ Boone said the stocky 28-year-old Ford, who pitched and played first at Princeton and signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2013. “He gives us a little bit of a different look and some balance from the left side and in a lot of ways I don’t feel he is necessarily rolling totally yet. He has had some big hits for us early in the season but anytime he is in there I have a lot of confidence that he is a guy who will work a good at-bat and if you make a mistake he can hit it in the seats.’’
In two big-league seasons Ford had never started a game hitting cleanup. He entered Wednesday night’s game hitting .194 (7-for-36) with two homers and 10 RBIs in a dozen games and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Last year in 50 games Ford hit .259 (37-for-143) with 12 homers, 25 RBIs and a .909 OPS.
Tyler Wade hits from the left side and Glasnow is a right-hander, but when Boone put his lineup together for Wednesday night’s game he had the right-handed hitting Thairo Estrada at second base and hitting ninth.
“I don’t think it is necessarily instead. I really value [Wade] and his versatility off the bench in different spots,’’ Boone said. “I like the rhythm Thairo is in right now and his ability to get on a fastball.’’
Estrada went hitless in four at-bats and struck out three times.
Wade has made four starts at second and one at short. Estrada started his second game at second and has started one game at third.
Tuesday night Luke Voit hit in DJ LeMahieu’s leadoff spot. It was the first time he started a big-league game hitting first. Wednesday against Glasnow, Voit was hitting second where Judge usually resides. It was the sixth time Voit has batted second.
Voit started Wednesday night’s action on an eight-game hitting streak in which he batted .367 (11-for-30) with four homers and 10 RBIs. Voit homered in the third and with nine is tied with Judge for the team lead.
They throw with different arms but lefty James Paxton can learn from watching the right-handed Gerrit Cole like he did Wednesday night when Cole started. Paxton gets that assignment Thursday afternoon.
“I definitely learn about how he approaches the game and his intensity and how he goes after the hitters, just his aggressiveness,’’ Paxton said of the Yankees’ ace. “How he uses his fastball in and out of the strike zone. As far as slowing guys down and speeding guys up I can definitely learn from watching him.’’
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