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Aroldis Chapman implodes as Yankees lose crusher to Angels

Manager Aaron Boone knew the tall task his team would face when two-way star Shohei Ohtani took the mound at Yankee Stadium. Before Wednesday night’s game against the Angels, Boone emphasized the one area of weakness his team would benefit from targeting, saying: “We gotta make sure we’re controlling the strike zone on him a little bit — you know, he has walked some guys.”

That statement became downright prophetic mere hours later, as the Yankees rode four walks to a seven-run first inning off Ohtani — the most they have scored in any frame this season. But in a game that extended into the early-morning hours due to a pair of rain delays in the Bronx — the first, a 42-minute wait after the third inning, and the second, a one-hour, 28-minute stoppage in the middle of the fifth — it was the ninth inning that mattered most and the Yanks’ own walks that hurt the worst in an 11-8 loss.

Staked to a four-run lead, closer Aroldis Chapman allowed free passes to three of the first four batters he faced. Then, against Jared Walsh — who had homered in the fifth — Chapman allowed the first grand slam of his 12-year big league career to tie the game. The only other time the Yanks had given up a game-tying grand slam in the ninth or later dating back to at least 1916 was to Toronto’s George Bell on June 20, 1986.

Reliever Lucas Luetge took over and didn’t fare much better, allowing a four-pitch walk to his first batter faced and then giving up a pinch-hit, two-out, two-run single from Luis Rengifo and a subsequent RBI double to Taylor Ward.

That was the seven-run inning that ended up deciding the game, as the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame.