When Aroldis Chapman blew a 102-mph fastball by Lucas Duda to allow the Yankees to hang on to a 3-2 win over the Rays on Wednesday at Citi Field, the closer wasn’t the only one who should have breathed a sigh of relief.
The Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead due in large part to their lack of production when they had a chance to pad an early advantage.
They finished just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and were hitless in their last 11 at-bats in that situation after Brett Gardner’s two-run single put them up 3-0 in the second.
And there was no bigger culprit than Clint Frazier, who went 0-for-4 and left eight runners on base in the win.
Joe Girardi, though, wasn’t displeased with Frazier’s performance at the plate, despite the lack of results in his second game since returning from a stint on the disabled list caused by a strained oblique.
“I thought his first three at-bats were pretty good, especially the two off [Chris] Archer,” Girardi said of the right-hander who started for Tampa Bay. “I know he struck out, but then he hits a ball to the wall in right-center [in the sixth]. He didn’t have much to show for it, and he came up in some pretty big spots.”
Frazier struck out looking with two on and one out in the Yankees’ three-run second.
An inning later, he battled back from an 0-2 count to get to 3-2 against Archer with the bases loaded and two outs following back-to-back walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Todd Frazier, but he struck out on a slider to end the threat.
In the sixth-inning at-bat Girardi referenced, Frazier hammered a ball that was chased down by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. Frazier also hit two balls well Tuesday, but both were caught before he was removed for Ellsbury as a pinch-hitter.
Frazier had a chance to redeem himself — or for his luck to change — in the eighth against Sergio Romo on Wednesday.
Ellsbury followed Starlin Castro’s one-out single with a double, and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases.
But Clint Frazier popped out in an uncomfortable-looking at-bat to keep it 3-1.
Austin Romine then whiffed for the third out, and the Yankees squandered another opportunity.
“We talked about pinch hitting for Romine, pinch hitting for Frazier,’’ Girardi said of how he handled the inning. “We decided not to. We decided to let them stay in the game. They had a better feel, and some guys aren’t used to pinch hitting.”
The Yankees ended up leaving 11 runners on — and Frazier wasn’t the only problem, as Didi Gregorius went 0-for-5 and left four on.
“We were really fortunate,” Girardi said of the Yankees’ ability to hold on for the win. “We had a lot of chances to add on today and weren’t able to do it.”