"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Gun In Your Hand?

Tonight’s pitching matchup proved equal to the hype: it was Sabathia vs. Price, and neither ace gave an inch. Both went eight innings and walked two; I guess Sabathia gets a bit of an edge for allowing 2 hits – as opposed to Price’s whopping 3 – and striking out 9 men, compared to Price’s 4. But basically, for most of the game, nobody was hitting anything. Sabathia changed speeds and spotted his pitches precisely; Price’s fastball blew away the Yankee hitters, who for the last week or so (if not, in many cases, a bit longer) have looked old and tired and tonight looked even more so, although to be fair, most people look that way when facing David Price.

So why, after the game, did Joe Girardi say of the two aces, “both of them were tremendous” in the same flat, soul-crushed tones one might normally use to say, “my girl ran off with my best friend and took my dog with her”? Well, the Yankee hitters didn’t do any better against the Rays’ relievers than they had against Price, and with the score tied 0-0 and the game heading into extra innings, Girardi inserted Chad “Abandon Hope” Gaudin and Sergio “Pushing Your Luck” Mitre to pitch the 10th and 11th innings, respectively. The many viewers who pessimistically assumed that Gaudin would lose the game, particularly after he loaded the bases, were proved wrong when instead it was Mitre who allowed the big game-winning homer — to Reid Brignac, the first batter he faced.

Well, according to Joe Girardi’s testy and dispirited post-game press conference, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain weren’t available (though why Joba wasn’t, having not pitched since Friday, I don’t know), and Mo (possibly because he looked so dreadfully un-Mo-like in his last outing?) was only going to be used in a save situation. Still, that doesn’t necessarily explain why Kerry Wood was pulled after one quick and easy ninth inning, or why Boone Logan only faced one batter, or why Curtis Granderson bunted against a righty to bring up… Collin Curtis. Coming on the heels of a series of brutal Yankee losses, this latest fiasco dunked New York into second place and left Girardi open to plenty of criticism.

Of course, the Yankees haven’t been making Girardi’s job any easier lately – questionable managerial moves are prone to be noticed and leaped upon much more often when the team of the manager in question isn’t hitting worth a good goddamn. And I’m quite sure Girardi didn’t call for two of his team’s most boneheaded plays: Jorge Posada getting thrown out trying to steal second in the fifth inning and, far worse, Brett Gardner getting thrown out trying to steal THIRD with two outs in the tenth. After the game Gardner apologized to his teammates, and in postgame interviews he looked like he wished desperately for the ability to melt into a guilty puddle of shame on the locker room floor, but even he could not really explain what he’d been thinking.

I’m not somebody who feels strongly about winning the division rather than going in through the Wild Card; I just want playoffs. But if the Yankees don’t start playing better, on both sides of the ball, it’s pretty hard to imagine them lasting long in October no matter how they get there. So here’s hoping they rouse themselves from their slump soon, because a beautifully kickass performance like the one C.C. Sabathia gave us tonight should not go to waste. And also because Joe Girardi sounds like he’s maybe three more bad losses away from taking a fungo bat and going after the next reporter who asks him about his pitching choices.

AP Photo

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Emma Span  Game Recap  Yankees

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 14, 2010 12:20 am

Just win Tuesday. Make it impossible for Girardi to fuck up.

2 Bobtaco   ~  Sep 14, 2010 1:23 am

He should have to explain his choices over and over and over again. Like Bart Simpson at the chalkboard. "I will not use my worst relievers after CC pitches his guts out, with first place on the line".

I only hope he has gotten the majority of the stupid out of his system this week. Otherwise, go back to Chicago.

3 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 14, 2010 1:37 am

I forget who said this (maybe many people) but there are two ESSENTIAL things a manager must do in order to succeed: command the repsect of his players, and manage a pitching staff. We don't know about the former (it's not like Jeter is going to fight him in the dugout even if he doesn't respect him..) but can we now safely say that Joe G stinks at the latter??

4 Hank Waddles   ~  Sep 14, 2010 3:22 am

Isn't Girardi wearing a Marlins uniform in that pic? No matter.

Here's a fun game... Write the caption for the photo.

"In a quiet moment, Joe Girardi realizes he should've remembered to USE the urinal before smashing it."

5 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 14, 2010 3:46 am

"A reflective Joe Girardi ponders how to respond to the news that his wife his having a torrid affair with Jeff Loria"...

6 RIYank   ~  Sep 14, 2010 6:30 am

I give him the benefit of the doubt on Joba, but he's too prone to bullpen roulette. When Kerry Wood is effective (and he almost always in), just leave him in. We know he can go two innings without any difficulty.

But yeah, a run would be nice. Or two.

That's a great photograph.

7 Yankee Mama   ~  Sep 14, 2010 8:37 am

"Dear Lord, just this once, can you do the locust swarming trick and rid me of the press? I promise I won't over-manage tomorrow."

At least we didn't have to watch them load the bases with one out and hit into the dp a dozen times as they did in Texas. That was unbearable.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 14, 2010 8:55 am

"With his hopes of retaining first place flushed down the toilet, Yankee manager Joe Girardi prays to the Porcelain God"

9 ironhorse   ~  Sep 14, 2010 9:24 am

I may be wrong, but wasn't the play when Gardner got thrown out at third a balk? How can a pitcher throw to an unoccupied base? I have NEVER seen a lefty pick a guy off first by throwing to second, even after the runner has left first. Clearly I am missing something, since no one else has mentioned this. Help me out on the ruling...

10 Emma Span   ~  Sep 14, 2010 9:52 am

I do think it's important to keep in mind that Girardi has access to some information that we don't -- who knows, maybe Joba Chamberlain's got some sort of health issue, for example. I'm as baffled by some of Girardi's moves as anyone... but the Yanks are half a game out of first place in baseball's toughest division, and they won the World Series less than a year ago. So I do feel I have to cut him some slack.

[4] Yep, it's an old photo - just seemed appropriate for tonight!

11 seamus   ~  Sep 14, 2010 9:53 am

[9] i've seen pitchers throw to the base that a runner is trying to steal before. It's not a balk so long as they don't make a balk move.

12 Raf   ~  Sep 14, 2010 9:57 am

[9] It wasn't a balk, Benoit had "stepped off" the mound at that point (the move was to 2b). Once he's off the rubber, he can throw to any base.

13 seamus   ~  Sep 14, 2010 10:00 am

[10] well, he said Joba is unavailable so I take him at his word there. And that certainly explains using some of Gaudin/Mitre. But I don't get why Boone faced one batter. Well, maybe I do...

Looking at Logan's hot streak here, it looks like his numbers are in large part a product of how he was used (Girardi left him in largely against batters he would be likely to succeed against). So I'm not sure if I should complain about Logan not being left in to face batters he'd be less likely to succeed against. And if the bullpen is thin, I'm not sure you can avoid using Gaudin and Mitre in that instance anyhow (and they might actually be the best choices left for facing multiple types of batters).

I certainly like using Wood for another inning though. Of course, you don't know what's going to happen in the top of the 11th so you're kind of guessing there and maybe he didn't want to burn him out if something is wrong with Joba.

14 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 14, 2010 10:04 am

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the pitchers I should not change;
courage to relieve or dump the ones I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 14, 2010 10:10 am

WW opines that Joba may be injured, as he has thrown only 4 innings in the past 13 games ...

hmmmm ....

16 mhoward120   ~  Sep 14, 2010 10:12 am

I pray that Girardi takes Mitre with him to Chicago after the season ends. Don't look now folks but the Red Sox are only 6 1/2 games behind.

17 rbj   ~  Sep 14, 2010 10:29 am

Well when the offense scores exactly 0.00 runs and the relievers only give up one run, I don't think it was the pitching staff that was the problem.

18 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 14, 2010 10:30 am

[15] I was shocked no one pushed Girardi on Joba. I didn't see the WW post, but that was my initial impression as well. However, by saying he is healthy and available today, that does seem to dispel the notion.

Also, if DRob was unavailable, why was he warming earlier?? The writers on the beat tip toe around Girardi so much, it's as frustrating as his managing itself.

19 FreddySez   ~  Sep 14, 2010 12:32 pm

[9] The belief that a pitcher has to step off before throwing to a base is one of those schoolyard canards like "tie goes to the runner." The book specifically says that you can throw to any base from either the windup or set positions while in contact with the rubber.

Just so I can be a complete tool instead of a partial one, the reference for the windup is 8.01(a)(2), and for the set position it's 8.01(b).

Lots of nerdy fun in the balk rule and popular misconceptions. E.g., the whole "if your foot goes behind the rubber you have to go to the plate" deal? Actually you can also turn and throw to 2B from there if you want [comment on 8.05(a)]. And puckish first basemen who like the hidden ball trick (guilty) know that it's not a balk to take the mound without the ball - only to be "on or astride the pitcher's plate" without it [8.05(i)].

Okay, I'm a complete tool.

20 ironhorse   ~  Sep 14, 2010 3:38 pm

[12] I'm not so sure he stepped off, even though Singleton said he did. And [19], not a tool at all. I asked for help and you gave it. Although... I've been playing/watching baseball for almost 40 years, and while I'm not doubting your interpretation of the rulebook, those canards as you say seem to be the way most people play the game. Why then does no one ever throw to a base while on the rubber. I don't get it.

I should look up the rules one of these days.

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