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The Yankee who threw the last meaningful pitch to the Houston Astros looks ridiculously ready for the rematch.
Aroldis Chapman sent the Yankees into off-day happiness by mowing down three Tigers — two of them on strikeouts — Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, sealing a 2-0 victory for the home team, finishing off a three-game series sweep and evening the Yankees (14-14) at .500 for the season. The closer recorded his sixth save in as many tries this season and has struck out 24 of the 35 batters he has faced against three walks and two hits. He has not been scored upon in 10 outings, totaling 10 innings.
“Overall, just commanding the zone, controlling the strike zone, has been the key for me,” Chapman said Sunday through an interpreter.
Agreed catcher Kyle Higashioka: “He’s definitely making sure he’s in and around the zone frequently. I noticed he’s throwing a ton of strikes. When he’s in the zone, it’s kind of like, ‘Good luck.’ ”
For regular-season action, the Yankees pointed out, Chapman owns a scoreless streak of 17 ²/₃ innings dating back to Sept. 4 of last year. Of course, on Oct. 9 of last year, Chapman surrendered a solo homer to the Rays’ Mike Brosseau that eliminated the Yankees from the American League Division Series. That marked the second straight year that Chapman gave up a season-ending homer. In the 2019 AL Championship Series, he allowed a walk-off, series-wrapping, two-run blast to Houston’s Jose Altuve — who, in the wake of Rob Manfred’s confirmation that the Astros illegally stole signs to win the 2017 title, wound up denying that he wore a buzzer that enabled to him to know that Chapman would throw a slider.
Chapman swore that retribution wouldn’t be on his mind when the Astros — who never faced the Bombers in last season’s division-only schedule — arrive at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
“For me, and I think for us as a team, we just want to win games right now,” Chapman said. “We’re trying to improve our record. That’s very important for us. And we’re definitely looking to win this series. We’re going to try to win three games, or at least two.”
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