MIAMI — Lance Lynn may be built like a plow horse, a barrel-chested pitcher with a constitution built to carry his team deep into games. But the Yankees, with their deep, dominating bullpen, are built to make a man of Lynn’s talents gratuitous.
The formula is simple: get through five with a lead and turn the game to a bullpen.
But on Wednesday, with closer Aroldis Chapman sent to the disabled list and another reliable reliever, David Robertson, nursing a tender shoulder, Manager Aaron Boone leaned on Lynn a little longer than he might have preferred.
If Lynn or the bullpen had been able to navigate through the sixth with a lead, it boded well for the Yankees: They are 61-3 this season when leading after six innings.
But the decision proved costly when Miguel Rojas turned on Lynn’s four-seam fastball on the inner half of the plate, and lined it over the left-field fence for a three-run homer that sent the Yankees to a 9-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Lynn said if he had the one bad pitch back, it might have been a different game.
What made it a bad pitch?
“It went over the fence,” Lynn said of a fastball that Rojas pulled his hands in for and muscled out. “I jammed him twice tonight on similar pitches. He finally got to it.”
The home run came on Lynn’s 105th pitch of the night — a workload that few Yankees have undertaken this season.
When Lynn was removed one batter later, with one outs in the sixth, he had thrown 110 pitches, a number exceed only three times this season by a Yankees starter (all of them by Luis Severino).
“You don’t worry as much about the pitch count as long as you feel like the stuff is still there — he’s one of those guys,” Boone said. “Tonight was a little different, just with us being a little thin, there was more of a need for him to go deep.”
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Yankees and dropped them to nine games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
Rojas’s home run gave the Marlins a 4-2 lead and after they added another run off Tommy Kahnle in the sixth on pinch-hitter Yadiel Rivera’s pinch-hit double, the Yankees left the game in the hands of Chance Adams, who was summoned from Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier in the day to replace Chapman.
It did not go well: Adams was peppered for four runs, including a two-run, pinch-hit homer by J.T. Riddle in one and two-thirds innings as the Marlins pulled away.
The Yankees, who scored just five runs in 21 innings here with their injury-depleted lineup, had one chance to seize the lead back, but Aaron Hicks took a 3-2 fastball from Tayron Guerrero for a called third strike to end the seventh inning with two runners aboard and the Yankees trailing by 5-3.
Though the Yankees had an off day on Monday and another on Thursday, their bullpen should be in for a heavy workload this weekend — C. C. Sabathia, who has rarely pitched beyond the sixth inning this season, is coming off the disabled list to pitch on Friday in Baltimore, and the Yankees have a doubleheader on Saturday.
Their next day off after Thursday is Sept. 6.
By then they hope to have Chapman back, provided the tendinitis in his left knee, which was painful enough to force him out of Tuesday’s game after six pitches, has settled down. He will visit a doctor in New York on Friday, and continue with rest and ice treatments.
“Right now, see how it goes and try to get a better idea,” Chapman said through an interpreter.
Boone said the Yankees will use Zach Britton, Dellin Betances and Robertson — all of whom have experience closing games — to replace Chapman.
“Obviously if you take a guy like Aroldis Chapman out of your bullpen, that’s a blow,” Boone said. “But we feel like we’re equipped to handle it and we have the guys certainly capable of getting big outs in high leverage spots and to close out a game.”
On Wednesday, they never got a chance.