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Girardi's gaffes give Angels new life

Oct 19, 2009, 9:00 PM EDT

Too much stupidity on the basepaths prevented it from being a great game, but Monday’s ALCS Game 3 was another exciting contest, one that will keep the second guessers going all night long following the Angels’ 5-4 win in 11 innings.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi will catch all of the flak after his team lost for the first time in six postseason games. The decision to pull David Robertson after he faced just two batters, retiring both, will be the one under the microscope.
However, the truly awful decision was pulling Johnny Damon with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th. Girardi thought a better arm might make a difference, so he inserted Jerry Hairston Jr., even though Mariano Rivera allows relatively few flyballs to left field.
The move would have been more defensible, though still undesirable, had Hairston come in off the bench. However, Hairston had already been inserted into the game as a designated hitter when he batted for Brett Gardner in the top of the ninth. The move meant the Yankees would lose their DH with the spot due up third in the top of the 11th.
Of course Rivera, being Rivera, pitched out of the jam, without any help from Hairston. But the switch meant that Rivera would have to either hit in the 11th or be removed from the game. Girardi opted to pull him and use Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli fanned, and Robertson came in to pitch the bottom of the 11th.
After Robertson got two outs by throwing 11 pitches, there was another shocking move. Out came Robertson and in came fellow right-hander Alfredo Aceves. The switch likely had something to do with Robertson throwing 33 pitches on Saturday, but if it made sense to use him to get two outs to start an inning, it certainly made sense to keep him in to face another right-hander. Besides, it wasn’t a real 33-pitch outing for Robertson on Saturday. Intentional walks accounted for one-quarter of those pitches.
The moves backfired in spectacular fashion. Howie Kendrick singled off Aceves and Jeff Mathis followed up with a game-winning double over the head of Hairston in left. It was a ball that likely would have eluded Damon as well, but the natural outfielder would have made a better run at it.
The hit was redemption for Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who had his own non-move that seemed to backfire in the 10th. After Mathis led off that inning with a double, Scioscia could have had Reggie Willits run in his place. Had he done so, there’s a good chance the Angels would have ended the game in the frame, as Willits shouldn’t have had any problem scoring from third on a Chone Figgins grounder to first that forced Mark Teixiera into a dive. Mathis opted to hold on the groundout and was stranded at first. It was an uncharacteristic decision from the typically aggressive Scioscia, but one that worked out just fine when Mathis won the game in the 11th.

  1. Omega - Oct 20, 2009 at 5:46 PM

    and if ‘Ifs’ and ‘Buts’ were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry freakin’ christmas.
    If the moves had worked, NYC would be building a shrine in Joe’s honor. Give the guy a break, this is only his 3rd season as a manager and first time in the playoffs.

  2. tululah - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:06 PM

    Leave Joba alone. It’s the yankees fault for trying to ramake him. He was dynamite in the bull pen and he had confidence. The powers thatbe decided to create a starter and it backfired. Put the kid back into the bullpen. Girardi is out of his league.

  3. bill - Oct 20, 2009 at 8:35 PM

    If it is only for all his stupid antics Joba Chamberlain should get lit up everytime hes on the mound. The stuff he did after getting his last out in game 2 is just plain misplaced, this is baseball not soccer. As for Teixeira, Matsui, Damon it is very strange that pitchers have not figured out these dead pull hitters. Other than Jeter and Alex the gross of Yankee hitters are pull hitters, still 7 players hiz more than 20 homers, so the pitching got to be sudpect. As for Girardi, it is difficult looking at him with his I am so very important looks. This guy does not fit on a team like the Yankees, he probably is to young, inexperienced and does not have the BODY LANGUAGE of Mature Yankee Manager.

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