Monday, October 19, 2009

Running Scared, Starring Joe Girardi

Nightmare at the Big ‘A’, Part MMIX

Written for Baseball Digest Online

Throughout this current post-season, New York Yankees fans and the metropolitan area media have waited for Joe Girardi to screw up. It’s not that anyone wanted him to, but Girardi’s managerial style during the playoffs, though successful in outcome, were not conducive to good baseball. His use of the bullpen proves he’s managing scared, not aggressively, as some would have you believe. Earlier this evening that style came back to biteGirardi as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won Game 3 of the ALCS, 5-4, in 12 innings.

Just as he had done in Game 2 and in the series with Minnesota, Girardi countered every move or non-move by the opposing manager with a pitching change. While David Robertson was retiring Kendry Morales for the second out in the bottom of the 12th, Fox TV cameras caught Girardi checking his scouting reports.

No sooner had Howie Kendrick stepped in to face Robertson, then Girardi hop out of the dugout ,despite the fact that Kendrick had faced Robertson just twice. Those match ups had produced one hit and one strikeout. It was also despite the fact that Robertson has been pitching much better over the last several months than the fellow right-hander, Al Aceves, that Girardi opted for.

Kendrick ripped a single back up the middle in his first at-bat against Aceves. Then light-hitting Jeff Mathis ripped a hanging fastball off the wall in left-center to score Kendrick with the game winning run. While there is no question that the Angels may have won the game anyway,Girardi did his best to help shift the momentum away from his ball club. The series now stands at two games to one in favor of the Yankees, with Game 4 scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

Making the loss all the more painful was the fact that Yankees blew a 3-0 lead, built on solo home runs by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Johnny Damon. The Halos cut the lead to 3-1 on Kendrick’s solo home run off Andy Pettitte in the 5th and tied the game an inning later when Vlad Guerrero belted a 2-run home run.

The Angels took their first lead of the night off of Joba Chamberlain in the 7th. Kendrick accounted for another run scored when he came home on Maicer Izturis‘ sacrifice fly. The Yankees tied things back up in the top of the 8th when Jorge Posada went deep off hard throwing right-hander Kip Jensen.

The Yankees had a chance to break things open against Angels starter Jered Weaver in the 2nd and 4th innings, but the lower part of the order failed to produce each time. Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera went 0-9 and left 12 men on base.

The Angels had a chance to win it in the 10th when Mathis led off with a double against Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera made an errant throw of Eric Aybar’s bunt. With runners on the corners and no one out, the Yankees brought the infield and outfield in. Mark Teixeira made a diving stop of a Chone Figgins‘ grounder for the first out and froze the runner at third in the process.

Rivera issued an intentional walk to Bobby Abreu to load the bases. With the infield still in, Torii Hunter hit a bullet to Teixeira, who threw home for the force out. Rivera then got Guerrero to ground out to Teixeira unassisted for the final out of the inning.

Game Notes

Due to all of the substitutions by the time the game was over, the Yankees had no DH, Jerry Hairston Jr. was in left field and batting 5th, and the pitcher’s spot was hitting second. Girardi also wasted another roster spot when he used Brett Gardner to pinch-run for DH Hideki Matsui, but later pinch-hit for Gardner.

Bobby Abreu had his first two hits of the series, but is just 2-13 overall. Kendry Morales (1-13, 3-23 in post-season), Mark Teixeira (1-13, 3-25) and Nick Swisher (2-10, 3-22) are among those slumping in October.


  1. This game made me upset because the Yankees don't need Cervelli on this roster, even though he came up to bat. The guy that should be on the roster and should have gone up in his place is Eric Hinske. It hurt not having him off the bench. Hopefully they'll put him back on if they make the WS.

  2. They really need Cervelli because of Molina catching Burnett, but I don't think they needed Freddy Guzman at all.