Josh Donaldson was walking to the plate. David Robertson looked into his dugout. Looking back at him: Yankees manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
One, Boone said, the Yankees determined before the game that Smoak was the better matchup for Robertson than Donaldson. Going into the afternoon, Smoak was hitless in five at-bats with four strikeouts and a walk vs. the righty. Donaldson He was 3-for-8 (.375 BA) with two homers, five RBI and a strikeout against Robertson.
So, the way Boone made it sound, the Yankees would have wanted to skip Donaldson for Smoak anyway. That’s even considering Smoak was 2-for-3 on the day and had two innings earlier blasted a two-run homer off Tommy Kahnle. It was also considering Donaldson was playing with what the Blue Jays were calling a dead arm — which showed on several of his throws Saturday.
His breaking ball we feel like is a good matchup for Smoak there, Boone said. To Smoak’s credit, he spoiled some tough ones…. Qe liked the matchup, as much as you can against a really good hitter.
Then there was this: The Yankees just let Robertson choose what he wanted. It seemed like neither Boone nor Rothschild were going to challenge Robertson. It was his call.
Who do we like against which guy Boone said. We communicate with our players, too. Communicate with Robbie there about the preference and simple as that. It’s not just one a whim. That’s the matchup we wanted.
He’s the one who let Robertson make the call. Sounds logical, right In that situation, go with what your veteran, All-Star reliever feels comfortable with. Put him in the most comfortable situation. At the same time, it’s worth questioning whether he should have overruled Robertson. Yes, the track record says Robertson vs. Smoak was the better matchup, but Donaldson appeared to be playing at something less than 100 percent, and Smoak had hit a long homer in his previous at-bat off another righty. Sometimes you go with the book, other times you go with the gut. The book won, and it looked like it wasn’t even close.
It was his decision to pitch to Smoak. He didn’t get the job done. He came close, but not close enough. Also didn’t help that he put on two runners before deciding to walk Donaldson. Russell Martin hit a single to start the inning and, one out later, Aledmys Diaz doubled to right field. Devon Travis grounded out for out No. 2.
Palmieri will play after leaving Saturday’s 4-3 win over the New York Islanders after taking a high stick under the right eye during the third period. Forward Marcus Johansson was activated off injured reserve on Sunday and traveled to Montreal, but he will not play.