October 19, 2009
The way the 2009 postseason is going, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi should plan on accepting his Overmanager of the Year Award come the off-season.
Baseball managers should be like doctors — first, taking an oath to do no harm. But, rather than letting the game play out a little, Girardi put on his wizard's cloak, consulted his talking magic 8-ball and went to his bench and bullpen over and over and over (and over) in Game 3 of the ALCS. Several of his moves did nothing more than lengthen the time of the game.
And put the Yankees in position to lose, 5-4 to the Angels.
Girardi officially jumped the shark as a manager when he removed reliever David Robertson(notes) after the right-hander retired the first two batters he faced in the Angels' half of the 11th in a 4-4 tie.
You see, Howie Kendrick(notes) was coming up; Howie was 1 for 2 — one for TWO — in his career against Robertson. While that does compute to a menacing .500, it's not exactly a large sample size with which to work. But Girardi just had to do something, or else a .500 hitter was coming up. He couldn't sit by and watch (which is exactly what he should have done).
Why, Joe, why?
"It's just different kind of stuff against those hitters," Girardi said. "And we have all the match-ups, and all the scouting reports, and we felt that, you know, it was a better match up for us."
As perhaps you already know, Aceves faced two batters and the game was over. Kendrick singled and he scored, one batter later, on Jeff Mathis'(notes) RBI double for the Angels victory. Just like that. Instead of a 3-0 series lead and a near-knockout punch by the Yankees, the Angels are back in the series.
Great job, Mr. Wizard!
And it's not the only example of Girardi's meddling. We got a list!
• Putting the steal on, when the Angels were looking for it with the pitch-out, with pinch runner Brett Gardner(notes) in the eighth. Gardner was out easily at second, right before Jorge Posada(notes) hit a tying homer. Hit-and-run at some point in the inning, maybe, but running Gardner with no outs was reckless. Sometimes, Earl Weaver, you wait for the home run.
• Joe also swapped rag-armed Johnny Damon(notes) in left field for designated hitter Jerry Hairston when the Angels threatened to score in the 10th. Bold, kinda, except the Yankees forfeited the DH from that point, which led to ...
• Girardi removing Rivera from the game after just one inning because the pitcher's spot had to bat in the top of the 11th. Oh, Girardi says Rivera was good for only one inning because of his 2 1/3-inning romp in Game 2. It was only 25 pitches for Mo.
• Inefficient bullpen management all night: Joba Chamberlain(notes): three batters faced; Robertson: two; Aceves: two; Damaso Marte(notes) one; Phil Coke(notes) 1. Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse notes: Girardi has made 29 pitching changes in six postseason games. Those relievers have thrown a total of 22 innings. Wasteful!
• Even if Aceves wriggles out of the 11th, Girardi left the Yankees with one pitcher — Chad Gaudin(notes) — in the bullpen. In a tie game, on the road, when there always will be a bottom of the inning, even if you go ahead.
Maybe there's more. But it's enough to make the Angels and Yankees play to at least five games.