Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I've talked all year about my discontent with Joe Girardi's in-game moves. He got away with many of them last year, no more so than in the 2009 ALCS. But this year Girardi's moves are coming back to bite him on the behind.
Down two games to one, Girardi opted to stand by his decision to start A.J. Burnett in game four rather than bring back CC Sabathia (93 pitches in game one) on three days rest. His reasoning did make some sense. He didn't want to push Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte to pitch on three days rest. But! and it's a but as large as Prince Fielder's. You have to get the momentum to swing back in your favor.
The Yankees have had trouble hitting in the clutch for well over a month. Translation- you need your pitcher to keep the opponent down. Andy Pettitte did that on Monday, but unfortunately was up against Cliff Lee. You go Sabathia game four and if need be, Burnett (or Dustin Moseley or whomever) in game five.
But, surprise of surprise, Burnett went out and gave Girardi a solid five innings and had a 3-2 lead. And then Girardi got greedy. Burnett hadn't started a game since September 27, but as his pitch count rose, Girardi stuck by him...and got burned.
Vladimir Guerrero led off with a single. Nelson Cruz hit into a force out, but Ian Kinsler just missed getting a hold of one, flying out to deep center. That should have been signal for the hook right there, but Girardi remained in the dugout. Yankee killer David Murphy was up and with a base open, Girardi called for an intentional walk, preferring to pitch to Bengie Molina. Burnett nearly threw a wild pitch in the process. Another signal to Girardi, but still no movement.
Burnett had misfired on a pitch to Molina earlier in the game and hit the bulky catcher in the back. This time Burnett's misfire was much more costly. With Francisco Cervelli set up outside, Burnett's pitch sailed right into Molina's wheelhouse. The result was a crushing three run home run and a 5-3 Rangers lead. Finally after six, Girardi went to the pen. But his mistakes weren't over yet.
David Robertson came out of the pen firing in the 7th. He dominated right-handed hitters Elvis Andrus and Michael Young. But Girardi and his friendly neighborhood binder said Boone Logan should pitch to Josh Hamilton. The leading contender for AL MVP smashed Logan's pitch into the seats for a 6-3 lead and things just got worse from there until it was an embarassing 10-3 final.
Yes, you have to give credit to the other team. As expected the Yankees hit Tommy Hunter well, but didn't break the game open. They've been unable to do that for months. Derek Holland then came out of the pen and pitched up to the potential we've all heard about him. And the Yankees were dead in game four and probably dead for the series.
When you're out managed by Ron Washington, you know you've screwed up. Joe Girardi will manage to find a way not to win.
As if things weren't bad enough, Mark Teixeira was forced to leave the game early with a strained hamstring and is probably done for the year whether or not the Yankees continue on. Though he was hitless in the ALCS his glove was invaluable.