- Angels 7-Yankees 6; Joe Girardi is scarier than Michael Myers:
Nothing should petrify the hearts of Yankee fans more than the fact that their manager's overall work has been so horrific that he's almost single-handedly kept the Angels in this series and could put the Yankees' humongous talent, expectations and payroll of 2009 in serious jeopardy of being bounced from the playoffs at home in a series that, by all rights, could've ended in a four-game sweep.
There are absolutely no excuses for the way Girardi has sabotaged the Yankees in this series. The gaffe on Tuesday was bad enough as he inexplicably pulled David Robertson in favor of Alfredo Aceves and watched haplessly as the Angels won the game immediately thereafter; but last night was worse. Here are the (main) inexcusable Girardi screw-ups:
Letting A.J. Burnett start the seventh inning:
Considering the rockets the Angels were hitting off of Burnett in the first inning, the Yankees were lucky to get out of the first inning only down four runs. That Burnett was able to right himself to pitch as well as he did the rest of the way should've been enough for them to accept what he provided for six innings in keeping them close enough to stage a comeback and pull him for the deep and rested bullpen. If the job Burnett did in righting his ship wasn't enough to spur a pitching change, then the long inning sitting on the bench as the Yankees rallied alone was a viable reason to pull him.
Instead Girardi----managing as if he didn't have any trustworthy relievers----left Burnett in and the pitcher promptly allowed the first two runners to reach base before he was pulled. The disarray didn't stop there. Instead of bringing in Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes or Phil Coke, he chose Damaso Marte; Marte, who's been so terrible this year that he's only on the roster because he has a (semi) functioning left arm, emerged relatively unscathed; then Girardi brought Hughes into the game (after apparent confusion in the Yankees bullpen had Chamberlain warming up, then Hughes warming up in barely disguised panic). Hughes allowed a walk and two singles to cough up the lead.
Why wouldn't he start the seventh with Chamberlain? And if he didn't trust Chamberlain because he's struggled this post-season, why not let Hughes start the inning? As well as Hughes has pitched as the set-up man this year, he's still only 23 and not an experienced reliever; why not give him some margin for error by starting the inning instead of dropping him into the middle of a raging fire? Does anyone really believe the Hughes couldn't have gotten through the seventh and eighth and handed the game off to Mariano Rivera had he started the seventh? What's the point of having three devastating arms in the bullpen in Chamberlain, Hughes and Rivera if you're not going to use them?
The only thing more useless than an unloaded gun is a loaded gun that's not used when necessary. Girardi had ammunition at his disposal and waited until it was too late to deploy it and saw it misfire right in his face.
Pulling Alex Rodriguez for a pinch runner in the ninth inning:
Let's say hypothetically the Yankees tied the game and it went to 12, 13, 14 innings. Then let's say ARod's spot in the order came up two or three more times against the Angels second tier of relievers and, rather than seeing the blazing hot ARod, they were looking at Jerry Hairston Jr. How would it look if Hairston repeatedly left runners on base because he's, well, because he's not ARod?
Is Freddy Guzman that much faster than ARod? And even if he is, is he as baseball savvy as ARod? It's not as if ARod is hobbled by his hip or hindered from running at close to full speed in any way, plus there was a great chance that they'd need his bat, the threat of his bat and his glove.
Girardi has been clueless in this series. His strategies are based on nothing. For a man who was portrayed as younger and more up-to-date than his "manage from the gut" predecessor Joe Torre, willing to accept the "new age" and embrace the numbers that have permeated the game while having the personality to handle a star-studded club, Girardi has failed miserably. The only reason the Yankees have gotten this far with him as manager is because of talent. With each glaring mistake; every instance of utter cluelessness, he inches closer and closer to being the one reason his team loses a series that, by all rights, should've ended on Tuesday in a four-game sweep.
His explanations are circular, generic and nonsensical.
And now his club, their fans and the media are beginning to show their terror at the prospect of a loss with the obvious caveats and bluster. "We still lead 3-2"; "We're heading home"; "The advantage is still ours"; "We can't lose, we're the Yankees"; and the paranoid and disaster inducing: "We've still got C.C. Sabathia for Sunday."
If they're already thinking about Sunday----with a Sabathia who will be pitching for the third time within nine days----then they're already dead.
You read it here first: they'd better wrap this up in game 6, because if it gets to game 7, they're going to lose, they're going to lose big and there'll be one person to blame----the manager.
Don't let anyone tell you anything different.
- Does this qualify as "getting ugly"?
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie are divorcing. This circumstance led McCourt to fire his wife as CEO of the club.
Yikes.No more comment on this story. Just yikes.