CHICAGO — At one point, Friday night, Gleyber Torres simply went over to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and put his arm around his shoulder. Torres has been there and understands all too well the pressure of being the Yankees shortstop. Kiner-Falefa has had a bad spell defensively, charged with three errors in the two previous games he started and then Saturday he made a huge baserunning mistake.
The Yankees tied the game in the top of the ninth inning when Joey Gallo led off with a walk against Liam Hendriks and advanced to third on Kiner-Falefa’s single. Gallo scored on Kyle Higashioka’s sacrifice fly, but Kiner-Falefa killed the rally by being thrown out at third base. DJ LeMahieu struck out to end the inning. The White Sox walked off the 3-2 win in the bottom of the inning.
“Anytime you’ve got your big guys up with runners in scoring position, you can’t get thrown out there in that situation,” Kiner-Falefa said. “It was a bonehead play and bad read and I’ll learn from it and it won’t happen again.”
That comes on top of his recent defensive struggles.
Friday night, he could have been charged with two errors. Kiner-Falefa has a -1 defensive runs saved rating heading into Saturday night’s game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Park. He is in the bottom 36 percentile in outs above average.
With one out in the first Friday, Kiner-Falefa booted Luis Robert’s ground ball and then bobbled it as he tried to pick it up and what should have been a double-play turned into a bases-loaded situation for Gerrit Cole. The Yankees ace got them out of that one. In the sixth, he couldn’t. The shortstop sailed a throw to first high allowing Robert to reach leading off the inning. Kiner-Falefa was not given an error on the play, but the next batter, Sheets, homered.
That cut the Yankees lead to 7-3 and Kiner-Falefa immediately dropped his head and Torres went over to give him a pat on the back.
That came on the heels of Kiner-Falefa committing two errors Tuesday night against the Blue Jays — and getting the next day off. Saturday, however, Aaron Boone had him right back in there with no concerns of this snowballing on him.
“No, no. Because I think he is so dynamic and athletic out there that he’ll get through this,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Look, the plays that he didn’t make last night, he’s got to make those two, but I do think there’s a little bit of a field element to that that was going on. It’s really soft out there and watching it on both sides are just really tricky hops out there. So I think that played into it. Now you got to work around that. … But no, I’m not worried about it. Long term he’ll kind of get through this and this athleticism will continue to show up as it has most of the year.”
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