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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. dumbfounded - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    Girardi has pretty much been stupidly using the bullpen the entire post season yanking pitchers like a drunken sailor. That he has been successful so far has been luck that he has probably misinterpreted as brilliance. The Hairston for Damon swap just capped it off. If the Yankees lose the ALCS, it will probably be a result of his over-managing.

  2. char in miami - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:25 PM


  3. char in miami - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:26 PM


  4. Geoff - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:29 PM

    Pulling Damon and not being able to use Mariano Rivera for at least 3 more out was just stupid!! The he pulls Robertson, what the heck was the guy thinking??!!

  5. yanks fan - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:32 PM

    I completely agree with this. They shouldnt have been in extras anyway b/c he shouldnt have put joba in. Joba has become a waste of a roster spot quickly. and he should have kept robertson in who is already 2-0 this postseason and obviously can win and work out of jams. plus aceves gave up the run to the angels on saturday to give them the lead in extras. the yanks had a chance to go up 3-0 and basically clinch but giardis calls kept that from happening

  6. gobes - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:32 PM

    Please don’t overthink this game.
    Are you kidding me!
    Robertson should have never been pulled.!!!
    In fact, leaving Mariano in would’ve been a great move.
    I agree with dumbfounded, because I am.!!!
    If we lose the series, this would be the game that coused it.

  7. canuck - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    What reason did he have to come out and talk to Petite in the sixth? Girardi sit your ass on the bench and let the professionals do what they are paid to do. This is your second year, you are a meathead, it isnt rocket science to realize that Aceves cant handle pressure, Robertson can, get it through your thick skull, asswipe.

  8. Scot - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    I was screaming at the TV during both of Girardi’s stupid moves. I totally agree with dumbfounded – girardi has been able to get away with his boneheaded use of the bullpen because they have won – not because of his moves but in spite of his moves.

  9. JOHNNYB IN THE GC - Oct 19, 2009 at 9:58 PM

    I agree 100 percent with char in miami. Joba has got to go but quick! And I am really sorry to say this, and it really is nothing personal because I think he is the greatest outfielder around but Damon is just coming up pretty empty in the hits department. We need consistant bats and we aren’t getting it. This was a tough loss but lets understand all these teams that made it this far got here for a reason. We are not losing to a dog team, so 5-4 loss in 11 innings is a hell of alot more respectable than 11 zip loss the Dodgers just experienced. Don’t get me wrong a loss is a loss but the Yanks rule and this will only serve to fuel them ! They win 2 more and go to the World Series against the Phillies!!Go Yanks!!!!!!!

  10. Joe D - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:10 PM

    oh the clowns could not wait for one of Girardi’s moves to backfire so now one has
    Tomorrow ia another game ………Joe Torre was always blamed for wearing pitches out because he pitched them so much so now just the oposite …a hater is a hater no matter what
    Yanks in 5 or 6

  11. Bill - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:15 PM

    Seems everyone is pretty unanimous in the comments. Hate the way Girardi over-manages the bullpen sometimes. And I can tell you Aceves is someone who I have little confidence in for short relief. I also ? why is Marte even on the roster for this round? Bruney certainly would have given them another righthander to use in short relief and yeah lets use a space for Guzman.

  12. hen i - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:24 PM

    total bad moves micro managing just relax if we lose !!!! just relax skipper

  13. Isaac - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:27 PM

    The broadcasters said it best when he pulled Robertson “this move is puzzling to say the least” I was shouting at my TV. I mean Aceves is not awful but it’s to get the 3rd out and there is no history between Aceves and the hitter. SO what was the reason. AND I WANT A REAL ANSWER!!!

  14. awineguy - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM

    Regarding Willits for Mathis:
    Are you suggesting that the Angels would have, or should have, sent a runner from 3rd, the winning run, on a hard ground ball to 1st with nobody out in the inning ?
    Really ?
    That’s what you’re suggesting as a sound tactical move ?

  15. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:34 PM

    With Rivera on the mound? Absolutely. Worst-case scenario is runners on second and third with one out. Best-case… game over.

  16. judyj - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:42 PM

    I didn’t understand the yanking Mariano or replacing Damon more than anything else. Then, pulling Robertson. Well, I think we have a rookie post season manager. I had hoped for so much more. Mariano looked disgusted even though he would never want us to think that. So, I suppose we have to realize the miscues will probably come from the dugout rather than on the field. GO YANKEES – PROBABLY IN 7.

  17. judyj - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:45 PM

    We all have to realize we have rookie post season manager. Taking Mariano out and Damon out really puzzled me, the Robertson move for Aceves left me dumbfounded, and Pettit coming out when he did. I think this guy panics. Still – GO YANKEES in 7.

  18. bobby s. - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:59 PM

    Joe screwed up…..period. Took Andy out 1 inning too soon. Should have saved Mo for if and when they got a lead..isn’t he called “the closer”? Took Phil out too early, took Robertson out at all..The Damon thing, like Judy said, baffled me also. He kept going to “the book” to check the batter’s stats. OK…but your pitching is great, why change it? Throw the “by the book” percentage’s decisions out…use common baseball sense. Let’s hope for better tomorrow!

  19. Mudzo - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:08 PM

    The Yankees are here in spite of Girardi’s game management style. He has a disturbing tendency to move away from the hot hands and manage by his capricious impulsive ideas. When a rested pitcher is going well, give him a chance. Girardi thinks and analizes too much. Acevedes can eat up innings in a lopsided game, but in a tie situation, on the road, he has no business being out there. Where’s Bruney when we needed his stuff? Girardi has him working out in Tampa.

  20. BIGBRUCE11047 - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:09 PM

    I agree with a lot of these opinions about trading Joba Chamberlain. He has been “babied” all season not letting Hughes get his fair-share of appearances. Hughes is a better pitcher mechanically. Chamberlain is good trade bait. The Yankees could get something good like another left-handed bat with that short porch in right. Girardi is really not a manager (this being only his second season as manager of the Yankees). He has such great players he should just let his players play the game.

  21. Artie Hamann - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:19 PM

    It is too bad that modern baseball managers go by the book all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a complete game, and/or a reliever go 3 or 4 innings? Despite the loss, it looks like New York still has a great advantage. Bring back the Mickey Lolich’s and Bob Gibson’s. And let the players play ball, not managed by computer statistics. Artie via Wisconsin

  22. Bill-Sonora - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:34 PM

    Based on many of these comments, it seems like no one watches National League games where more thinking and switching is involved. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. Thats the way the game is.

  23. Rev - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:36 PM

    Yea. If I was managing, I think I would leave a hot relief pitcher in a little longer espec in extra innings. Believe in your players a little more and leave the stupid binder alone. Damon must be a little pissed. He may play the winning hit into a catch as well. have a good sleep tonight Joe.

  24. Alan - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:56 PM

    Ace has come through a;pt for the Yankees. Unfortunately it wasn’t tonight. Joe Girardi has done a GREAT JOB managing. He has outsmarted the Angels manager the whole series. We didn’t have that with Joe Torre. A Rod is hitting and the pitching looks great. Other guys have to step up and contribute like Melky and Cano. Its just a matter of time and everything will fall into place. CC is going Tuesday and well see what happens next.
    All these writers just second guessing everybody.
    Is it just me or is Joe Buck the worst announcer you ever heard? I can’t stand his commentary and announcing. I don’t think he knows baseball at all.

  25. awineguy - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:15 AM

    Actually worst case scenario is runners on 1st and 2nd, not 2nd and 3rd as Aybar was on 1st at the time.
    So unless Aybar goes 1st to 3rd, and Figgins somehow goes to 2nd, as Mathis gets thrown out at the plate I’m not sure how your “worst case runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out” occurs.
    Your scenario is actually what the Angels got out of the play: 2nd and 3rd one out, meaning no double play and a sac fly still a viable option.
    There is not a single baseball manager at the major league level who sends Mathis on that play.

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