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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. OKCyankeefan - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:19 AM

    May have been some bad managerial decisions, but they wouldn’t have been necessary if the boys weren’t hitting oh-fer 19 with RISP. Good thing they are getting their money’s worth from Tex in the field, ’cause he reverted to his April hitting mentality.

  2. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:24 AM

    Yikes. Yes, runners on first and second. Obviously, if it was runners on second and third… well, that’d kind of be a no-brainer.
    So, Mathis doesn’t go. Second and third, one out. Mathis goes and gets thrown out, then it’s first and second with one out. I’d be more than willing to trade the one base in a contact play situation against Rivera. It’s pretty rare that he gives up sac flies.
    But that wasn’t really the decision at all. If you’re going to go with contact, then you definitely put in Willits. If you’re not going to go contact — and Scioscia didn’t — then you might as well stick with Mathis.

  3. Ben Boston - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:26 AM

    His worst decision was taking out Matsui so Gardner could get thrown out at second right before Posada hit a home run. That was the game. With Posada up and Cano to follow…WTF? All the rest of the left field craziness followed from that.

  4. WallaceN - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:52 AM

    Being a Red Sox fan I loved it today but the last 2 games I’ve been screaming at the TV also. Scosica has looked lost, hitters talking 1st pitch strikes, by my count about 12 times yesterday, bringing in a lefty to pitch to A Rod in the 9th (why pitch to him at all) and they looked intimidated in NY. Couldn’t hit, couldn’t field, etc. but NY fans, you know this to be true: your Yankees have not looked that great either, especially against the Twins, a team that needs three hits to score a run. CC looks great, as does Jeter, but I think you know what I mean. Giradi helped the Angels come out of their funk today and if they are able to beat CC tomorrow, you know it’s gonna get scary, those last three games. I know you know what I mean.

  5. scary haircut guy - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:09 AM

    And the Yankee machine begins to eat itself. Enter choking stage right…

  6. The Eye - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:19 AM

    I love the Monday morning quarterbacking by the writer. If Willits would’ve ran for Mathis who would you bring in to catch. You need an experience person behind the plate.
    As for the Yankees fans on this blog…well suck it up. Most people hate USC Trojans and the Damn Yankees.

  7. Tony in Nashville - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:55 AM

    It was sickening to lose that game today. I agree with most everyone who has posted – a major case of over-managing: Damon, Rivera and most definitely Robertson. However, a finger needs to be pointed at Teixeria and the bottom of the lineup – absolutely infuriating. Thank you Tex for your fielding, but you’re not getting the big money to be The Ghost of A-Rod Past. Swisher has one key hit this postseason and looks entirely inept at the plate. How did he earn all those walks during the regular season? Melky has to be benched. I don’t understand. Why not start Gardner? You get better defense, more speed and a live bat. You can’t get any worse. Angel pitchers could have bounced the ball four times to the plate and Cabrera would have swung at it. Is Cano ever going to produce with the bat when it counts? There has been no consistent hitting in the Twins series and this one. The clubhouse door needs to be shut and someone throw a few things and knock over a few tables. I hope we snap out of it.

  8. Todd P - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:02 AM

    I agree with Tony about Tex and Swish. I have been to Angel Stadium twice this year so far Tex has done nothing against his old team whatsoever. Swisher is the same. He can’t hit against this team. Some sort of mindblock. There were tons of bad moves tonight and do not know where to start honestly, but removing Robertson was the main one. It’s too bad that Mariano’s brillance in getting out of that huge jam went for naught. C C better bring the pain tomarrow!

  9. Lucy - Oct 20, 2009 at 6:56 AM

    I agree! Girardi should be fired even, and I hope we still do after last night, win the ALCS! Fire him! I wouldn’t even want him managing little league!

  10. jh - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:02 AM

    A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. Bench coaches should have tackled Giradi and not let him out, to talk to Petite, yank Damon, put in Aceves etc etc etc

  11. Joe - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    ok so what anyone has failed to mention is that it should have never went into extra innings in the 1st place. IN the 8th innning Gardner got thrown out stealing on a 1-0 count pitchout!! OK anyone that knows anything about baseball knows that with a runner like Gardner and a 1st strike pitch to the batter,you can almost smell pitchout! Cmon Girardi your a former catcher you should know this! Should have waited a few pitches into the at bat but by then the Yanks would have been ahead becasue 2 pitches later Posada hit a homerun!!

  12. Rick39 - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    I’ve heard the expression arm chaor QB. What is it in baseball when all the idiots talk about what they would have done different?

  13. bh0673 - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    Chamberlain has been misused, he has ability but forcing the starting roll on him andthe joba rules have hurt him. Remember he is still young and should mature. Rivera in 1995 was terrible and a bad starter imagine if they had given up on him back then as well.

  14. bh0673 - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    The pulling of Robertson made no sense at that point, the Damon/Hairston switch is secondary but Robertson was pitching well and has proven his ability to handle the pressure.

  15. tom s - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:34 AM

    don’t know who had a worse game – Girardi or Swisher?

  16. Steve D - Oct 20, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    The yanking of Robertson was a bad move for another reason. What if the game went another 4,5 6 innings? There was only one other pircher left in the bullpen. Was Girardi going to come in and pitch himself? This micro mananging is stupid.

  17. Doug M - Oct 20, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    What’s lost in all these comments is that our team went 8 for 40. While the Angels out hit us. 13 for 40. I don’t disagree with the bad managerial moves, but the bats better wake up.

  18. Kevin Jay - Oct 20, 2009 at 8:51 AM

    Tell me that after game 4………
    Did you really believe the Yankees would go 11-0 in the post season?
    We all knew it was not going to be ab easy series. One loss is hardly “choking”

  19. Jeremy - Oct 20, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    I’ll generally reserve judgment of Gerardi until after game 4 with CC. If CC can’t pitch to his normal level on short rest after 8 innings, then I’ll look at Gerardi mismanaging the pitching of this team. However right now, it just seems like he made a single (or two) bad decisions and lost a game. If the bullpen loses again (or CC gets lit up, again that’s a huge maybe on CC) then we’ll start seeing the blame very clearly on his management of a pitching staff which was dominant in the stretch.

  20. Dutchboy - Oct 20, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    I love seeing Yankess fans upset!

  21. judyj - Oct 20, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    As a Red Sox fan maybe you can give the Yankees some hints on how to beat the Angels in the postseason. After all the Sawks do have a great postseason record against the Halos. Of course I forgot about this year. But nevertheless, please ask Tony Francona if he can give us a few points to go forward with. Thanks for the help.

  22. j. mejias - Oct 20, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    I cannot agree more. However I do not think we will ever see that again. I have been a fan for 59 years,and do not like the way the game is played now. Would love to see the game the way it used to be.

  23. paul - Oct 20, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    Does nobody think that Joe was fired by the Marlins for no reason ?? He thinks they are winning because of him. Think Casey Stengel – not winning with this team would be difficult and he makes things difficult.

  24. peteinfla - Oct 20, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    I have to agree with everything above. Chamberlain scares the hell out of me – it may not be his fault given the way the Yanks mis-used hin this season, but everytime he comes in I expect the worst. Then the decision to pull Robertson for Aceves was bizzare! This is not hindsight or second guessing, but Robertson looked good, and was far more reliable in both the regular season and post season.
    The move that really makes no sense is the Hairston to LF, pull Damon, lose the DH move. What nobody seems to mention is that Girardi still had the kid OF Guzman on the bench. If you have to pull Damon, wouldn’t it have made sense to just send him in for Damon, leave Hairston at DH, and thereby allow Mariano to pitch the next inning. not have to pinch hit Cervelli for him. Guzman may not be great, but neither is Cervelli, so why lose the DH?

  25. Lin - Oct 20, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    I am and always have been a Yankee fan but Girardi needs to pull his head out of ass…why he did what he did last nite defies explanation. That loss is totally on his shoulders, no one elses…take that damn book away from him, whatever is in there is no help to the Yankees at all, or at least it was not last nite…go with your gut Girardi, if you have any!! Your mind should have been telling you not to pull Robertson, why didn’t you listen?
    Stay home tonight and let anyone else manage…anyone else…tsk, tsk, tsk, shame on you…

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