24 Jun 2010
Last night was one of those games that are very tough on the East Coast fan. The Yankees played like garbage in the early innings, completely letting Dontrelle Willis off the hook. They really should have scored 5 runs or more in the first couple of innings, but instead they trailed 4-2. Then they tie it up, only for Joe Girardi to make a strange bullpen choice, allow Damaso Marte to pitch the sixth.
I imagine he looked at the Arizona lineup and saw that two of the first three hitters were lefties and figured he would go with Marte. My question is, what are the rolls of Chan Ho Park and Chad Gaudin in that case? Sixth inning of a tie game, I am not bringing in my lefty specialist to get multiple outs if I have other options. Both Gaudin and Park threw 30-something pitches the other night, if that makes them unavailable for work after a day off, the Yankees should be looking for new pitchers.
So, I went into bed feeling mad and looking at a 5-4 score. I fought back sleep for long enough to see A-Rod tie the game and then Mariano enter the game in the ninth. I was so happy with that decision from Girardi that I was happily asleep long before the tenth inning even started.
From reading the boxscores and stories today, it’s pretty clear Mariano made a miraculous escape in the 10th, but Joe Girardi was 100% right in using him in the 9th. If you are not going to pitch Joba multiple innings there, your only other choices were Park, Logan or Gaudin. (I would say that Phil Hughes could have thrown an inning, but I don’t think the Yankees were ready for that) Rivera gave you the best chance to extend the game into the 10th and hope your offense woke up with a run. Lo and behold, it worked thanks to Granderson and Rivera held on for a win.
It drives me nuts how infrequently managers use their closer in tie games on the road. Your closer is supposedly your best pitcher in the bullpen so he represents your best chance to keep the game going. Throw an inferior pitcher out there and chances are you lose the game before even getting to use your closer. Yet, managers do it all the time because they are terrified of the backlash they would get if they ended up losing a game they were leading because they had already used their closer. So, conventional wisdom in baseball today seems to be to not maximize your chances to win, but to stay out of the line of fire. Credit Girardi for going against that thinking last night (though I suspect we would NOT have seen Rivera if the Yankees weren’t off today) it got the Yankees a win.