CHICAGO — Aroldis Chapman has blown saves before in his stellar career as a closer. But this one had to sting a bit more than the others.
But only for about three hours.
In a game that ended at 2:15 a.m. EDT on Monday, the New York Yankees pushed across a run in the top of the 18th inning and beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-4, to sweep the three-game series.
A major league-record 48 batters struck out in the game — 26 Cubs and 22 Yankees. More than 500 pitches were thrown.
Chasen Shreve picked up the victory after pitching three innings of relief. With two outs in the bottom of the 18th, he walked Kris Bryant, and Joe Girardi immediately ordered Anthony Rizzo to be intentionally walked. That left starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks as the hitter — he of the .105/.139/.112 career slash line — and Shreve struck him out to end the game.
The Yankees brought a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth, thanks to Luis Severino’s stellar pitching, an RBI triple by Aaron Judge and a two-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury. But former Cub Chapman — who received his World Series ring in a pregame ceremony on Friday afternoon — allowed three runs in the ninth before being rescued by Tyler Clippard.
Chapman walked Addison Russell and allowed a single by Jon Jay to start the ninth. Willson Contreras struck out, but pinch hitter Albert Almora Jr. and Javier Baez delivered RBI singles to make it 4-3. With Kyle Schwarber up, Baez stole second to put the winning run in scoring position, but Schwarber struck out for the second out. Bryant walked to load the bases and Chapman drilled Rizzo in the left forearm with his first pitch to tie the score. Clippard then got Ben Zobrist to ground out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs threatened in the 12th when Rizzo led off with a double and advanced to third on Almora’s long fly to left. But Adam Warren struck out Russell and got Contreras on a grounder to first.
Earlier, when the Yankees appeared to be on the verge of a sweep of the defending champions, it seemed as if it were time to stop discussing contention in terms of 2018, the target year set by many after last July’s sell-off.
Until the ninth, the AL East-leading Yankees — who entered the night the AL leader in runs (162), homers (47) and slugging percentage (.475) — seemed headed for a 20-9 record and a 19th victory in 24 games.
Severino outpitched Jon Lester and flummoxed the Cubs in his seven innings. The 23-year-old righthander allowed one run, four hits and a walk and struck out nine, giving him 45 strikeouts and seven walks in 39 2/3 innings. The run came on a home run by Baez in the third that tied it at 1-1.
Lester, 13-6 with a 3.78 ERA against the Yankees, also was terrific, allowing two runs (one earned) and three hits in seven innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
After walking Aaron Hicks with two outs in the third, Lester retired 10 straight, six on strikeouts. That streak ended in the seventh when Starlin Castro hit a grounder to third that Bryant fielded but threw into the seats for a two-base error.
That brought up Judge, 0-for-5 Saturday night and 0-for-2 to that point in the game. He crushed a full-count curveball to the base of the wall in centerfield for a none-out triple that made it 2-1. The Yankees stranded him, though, as Didi Gregorius popped up, Chase Headley grounded out and Austin Romine lined out.
After Brett Gardner batted for Severino and led off the eighth with a single, Ellsbury, starting in center for the first time since suffering a bruised nerve in his left elbow last Monday, hit a two-run homer off righty Justin Grimm to make it 4-1.
As they did Saturday night, the Yankees scored in the first.
Hicks walked with one out and Matt Holliday, getting his 10th career start at first base and first with the Yankees, singled.
After a double steal — Girardi indicated before the game that the Yankees might be a bit more aggressive against Lester, who famously doesn’t throw over to first because of the yips — Castro’s groundout made it 1-0.
Severino retired the first eight batters he faced before making a mistake with a 2-and-2 fastball that Baez hammered halfway up the bleachers in left for his fourth homer. Leftfielder Hicks didn’t appear to see the ball off the bat, holding his arms out wide and looking upward, never realizing where the ball was until it landed well behind him in the stands.
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