19 May 2011
Sports radio is filled today with questions from last night’s great Yankee win. The biggest seems to be centered around Joe Girardi’s decision to pull Bartolo Colon from the game and let Mariano close out the 9th. To me, that question isn’t worth asking. Until Mariano’s cutter doesn’t cut anymore, he is the guy I want on the mound with the game on the line. Yes, Bartolo pitched a great game, but Mariano is Mariano.
While that decision is debated into the ground, an interesting one from the 15th inning seems to have escaped notice. With the Yankees ahead 3-1, a runner on third and no outs, Chris Dickerson got drilled in the helmet. (Note, I don’t think the Orioles were throwing at him) It was one of those terrifying baseball moments. Dickerson lying almost motionless on the ground and his cracked helmet showing the evidence of what had just occurred. Girardi now had three choices.
1- See if Dickerson could take his base and continue to play. To his credit, Dickerson wanted to do it, but Girardi wisely got him out of there.
2- Since Dickerson couldn’t continue, use the last guy on the bench, Posada to run for him. Problem with this move is, Dickerson is playing right, how do you get Posada in the game and keep him in it under those circumstances? (My best guess was Posada to catcher, Martin to third, A-Rod to short and Nunez to right- MESSY)
3- Use one of your pitchers to run then move Nunez to right, Jeter to short and give up the DH.
I think everyone would agree that #3 is the best choice. Dickerson looked a bit out of it, so keeping him in was never an option in my mind. #2 causes too much shuffling of the defense and there is no reason to use Posada ever as a pinch runner. So #3 makes the most sense, but who should do the running?
Now Girardi doesn’t have a ton of options. He has used five pitchers in the game and CC Sabathia, today’s starter, is probably sitting in the hotel at this point. So, that leaves six guys who could come into the game and run- Sanit, Robertson, Chamberlain, Nova, Burnett and Garcia. If you were Girardi, which one would you pick?
Personally, I would have picked Nova. He is young and less likely to get hurt. Also, he pitched on Tuesday, so there is no practical way he is going to pitch in this game. The last guy I would have picked is the one Girardi did select, AJ Burnett. I would have picked someone with younger legs if I had been Girardi. If Nova wasn’t an option, Sanit or Robertson would have been my next choices. Either way, I thought putting a 34-year old with a history of injuries on the basepaths insanity. But the move worked and the Yankees have a wining streak thanks to a wild night of baseball.