Sunday, May 5, 2013

Logan the Yankees' Boondoggle

The Yankees lost the game and Eduardo Nunez

There's a reason a lot of Yankees fans don't trust Boone Logan and Sunday afternoon's game was a prime example. Down 4-1 to the Oakland A's, the Yankees rallied for three runs in the 6th inning to tie things up at four apiece. It stayed that way until Logan served up a gopher ball to the A's Josh Donaldson and the third baseman hit it out for this third home run of the season. The Yankees rally against closer Grant Balfour fell short in the 9th and the 5-4 loss gave Oakland the series win two games to one.

Logan looks dynamite at times and other times not so much. Part of the problem I put squarely on the shoulders of Joe Girardi. His predecessor, Joe Torre, was a notorious bullpen killer in his dozen years with the Yankees. Scott Proctor and Tanyon Sturtze were just two of the relief pitchers that were never the same after they were over worked by Torre.

Girardi has been much more protective of his bullpen, but Logan appeared in 64 games two years ago and 80 last season. That does not count, of course, the number of times Logan warmed up in the pen, but did not enter the game. It's no wonder that Logan felt elbow tenderness in Spring Training. Logan has been in 11 of the Yankees first 30 games, putting him on a pace for approximately 60 appearances. But that number could easily rise as the season goes on.

I've said it before and it bears repeating - there is absolutely no reason for Girardi or any manager to mix and match as much as he does. A good relief pitcher can get out right-handed and left-handed hitters no matter what arm they deliver the ball with. There have been times when the Yankees had a five run lead and a right-hander would open the inning by striking out the first two hitters, both of which were right-handers. The pitcher was in a groove, but because a lefty was coming up, Girardi had to go to the pen and counter with a left-handed pitcher. With a five run lead there is no reason to. For that matter there's probably no reason to even warm that pitcher up unless you have no trust in your first pitcher.


Andy Pettitte's last two starts are something to worry about more than Logan's outing. In his prior start against Houston, Pettitte lasted just 4.1 innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits. He only made it through five innings on Sunday, and allowed four runs (three earned), walked four batters and hit another. A very unusual start for Pettitte, who is normally very accurate with his pitches. Pettitte's problems started when his back started aching.

Lyle Overbay was nearly the hero in two different spots in the game. Down 4-1, The Yankees put a couple of men on base against starter Dan Straily in the 6th inning, which led to a quick hook from manager Bob Melvin. Left-hander Jerry Blevins entered to face Ichiro Suzuki, Jayson Nix, and Overbay.

Ichiro singled to cut the lead in half, and after Nix went down for the second out of the inning, Overbay dropped a ball in front of center fielder Yoenis Cespedes to tie the game. The Yankees put two aboard against Ryan Cook in the 8th and it came down to Overbay with two outs. The first baseman just missed getting all of one and flied out to the warning track in centerfield.

The Yankees had one more shot with two outs in the 9th against closer Grant Balfour. Brett Gardner roped a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The disadvantage there being that the A's then intentionally walked Robinson Cano, even though it put the winning run on first base. That left things up to Vernon Wells who swung and missed at a strike three fastball to end the game.

Eduardo Nunez had to leave the game in the middle innings when he felt discomfort in his rib cage. An MRI was negative, but with the Yankees about to start a three game series in Colorado on Tuesday, they are probably going to need another position player.

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