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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. Andoy - Oct 20, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    Robertson has been lights out — why Aceves? He has struggled at times — stay with the hot guy!!!

  2. Yankee in VA - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    I think the worst decision that no one is discussing happened in the eighth inning.
    The Yanks are down 4-3 after Kendrick tripled and scored on a sac fly in the bottom half of the seventh.
    Matsui leads off the top of the eighth with a single.
    Girardi inserts Gardner to pinch run.
    Posada takes a first pitch strike, but Gardner doesn’t run.
    After a lot of cat-and-mouse between Gardner and the red-bearded Angel reliever, Gardner runs on a pitch-out. Close play, but out at second.
    Posada homers on the next pitch to tie the game at 4-4.
    My point is, if Gardner runs on the first pitch, he probably makes it and then the Yanks take the lead 5-4 on Jorge’s homerun. Or don’t run at all and let your lineup drive in runs. That’s how you got here. Don’t start playing small ball now.
    Girardi’s decisions are either predictable (everyone in the park knew Gardner was running, hence the pitch-out), or he tries to overthink everything. Two games in a row, the Yanks have had one guy left in the bullpen. Not smart…if this is baseball genius, then maybe that’s why I don’t get it. Otherwise, Joe’s just getting in his own way.

  3. Ryan - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    I was not screaming at the TV because of stupid decisions because the freakin game started at 1:30 on a Monday afternoon.
    Come on MLB. Playing at home means playing at home– not on your own field in an east coast time slot.

  4. -z- - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:25 AM

    Are you knocking Stengel? – Take a look at the rosters of all those teams he beat in the World Series – Far more Hall of Famers than were on Stengel’s Yanks.

  5. oswegosteve - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    I am a die-hard Yankees fan but, all season I’ve been saying that Girardi has no “feel” for the flow of a baseball game….he proved that last night.
    The biggest difference between Joe Girardi and Joe Torre is that Torre would often go with the “hot hand” at the plate and on the mound. It’s part of what a manager (a good manager) should do. If he is truly in tune with the game, he has the correct instincts most of the time in the manuevers he makes. Girardi puts way too much emphasis on what the book says vs. what his gut tells him to do.
    Last night, he cost the Yankees a win with:
    1. Having a runner attempt to steal a base on a 0 – 1 count in front of Posada who was at the plate (Posada hit a HR after the runner was thrown out…)
    2. Continuing to go with Nick Swisher in the lineup – everyone in the universe knows what a streaky player Swisher is. Right now he is ice cold at the plate but, Girardi continues to stick him in the lineup and, his ABs are killing rallies.
    3. The inexplicable replacing of Robertson on the mound after he got the first two outs of the inning. Robertson is very nearly a dominating pitcher at the moment, throwing his best stuff of the season. Because “the book” told him that Aceves was the better matchup, he removed Robertson and the rest is history…..
    It has become painfully obvious that the Yankees have won this year in spite of their manager…….

  6. jeff - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:37 AM

    i am a bit surprized that joe left in andy for that long i thought he should have pulled him out oncehe got into trouble

  7. Warren - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    This just in – Joe Girardi changed bus drivers on the ride back to the team hotel!

  8. tom s - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    time to sit Swish. 1st & 3rd no out. twice. zero rbi’s. looks lost.

  9. tom s - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    who’s the new driver – Ralph Cramden?

  10. Jay - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:56 AM

    What no one seems to realize is that graduated with honors from the Grady Little’s School of Mismanagement.

  11. Jay - Oct 20, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    Of course I meant that Girardi graduated. Sorry.

  12. carbo - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    lol. he also changed rooms when he got there because the 1st one didn’t have any problems.

  13. robb - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    A lame excuse for Girardi being a rookie post season manager. The game is played the same and requires the same managerial decisions from little league to the MLB world series except for the big payday at the end. Although I like Joe, I’ve watched the Yankees all season long and have puzzled over a lot of his decisions. Also, I have for years tried to figure out why guys can’t pitch 30-35 pitches night after night. They’re in excellent health, stronger than long ago players, and make top dollar. Bet Dizzy Dean is rolling in his grave – he could & would pitch both ends of a double header….

  14. smittyny - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    hey joe, if it ain`t broke, don’t fix it.

  15. Everyone Chill Out! - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    People are acting like the yanks lost the series.
    Agreed, Girardi has been making some dumb moves all post season and the yankees are winning in spite of him. But he wasn’t the one who stranded 10 and was 0-8 with RISP.
    They just had a bad game as a TEAM–players and managers. The Yankees can still win with Girardi, in fact, they’re gonnna win it all.

  16. chuck - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    And what ever happened to SMALL BALL. 2nd & 4th innings, 2 men on with ZERO outs. Cano batting and he couldn’t BUNT. For God’s sake it doesn’t have to happen enough all year that Girardi couldn’t have asked Cano to try to lay down a bunt ?????????

  17. peter_sf - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:40 PM

    i wasn’t upset by girardi’s moves whatsoever. i yelled with glee not gloom when i watched his boneheaded changes. all the yankee’s fans around me became haters quickly. i am not an angels fan. i am less a yankees fan. phils will beat angels in 6 games.

  18. soxman66 - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    As a bonafide fan of the definitely-wasn’t-our-year Red Sox, I hate the Yankees.
    But Girardi is just managing the same way he did in leading the Yanks to the best record in baseball and 6 previous postseason wins.
    If pathetic fans wants to run him out of town, please do, for the sake of the rest of the league. But no one is going to beat Girardi’s Yankees this year. Unfortunatey.

  19. peter_sf - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    for the record, i amn’t either a phils fan. indeed, i am a sox fan, a yankmees hater through and through. i still see the phils winning it all.

  20. Danny - Oct 20, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    Girardi is an idiot for pulling Robertson, no question. Even if you are going to go “by the book,” there was no book to go on in this situation.
    Your point re: Damon is wrong: “It was a ball that likely would have eluded Damon as well, but the natural outfielder would have made a better run at it.” Umm…no he wouldn’t have. Have you watched any Yankee game over the last 3 seasons? Damon is an atrocious outfielder, who takes horrendous routes to the ball. So, you can’t fault Girardi for replacing Damon with a halfway decent outfielder with the game on the line.
    However, Girardi made numerous other terrible decisions which led to having to insert Hairston in left. Girardi chose to pinch run Gardner for Matsui, so Garnder became the DH. When Gardner came up again against Fuentes in the 9th, Girardi (again playing the “percentages” with a lefty/righty matchup) pinch hit Hairston for Gardner. This was stupid for a number of reasons. First, if you actually look at the stats, Hairston batted .240 against lefties this season, whereas Gardner batter .290. Second, and most glaring, is why pinch run Gardner there? Gardner is probably your best outfielder, so he gets wasted when pinch hitting for the DH. Girardi chose to keep Guzman on the post season roster. Pinch run Guzman for Matsui. Otherwise, don’t keep Guzman on the post season roster.

  21. jim - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    I agree. Girardi is lucky he has great players to bail him out. Even his players questioned him

  22. Jim - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:18 PM

    Bench Girardi

  23. Damian - Oct 20, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    Robertson should never have been pulled.
    No, Buck is not the worst announcer. The guy sitting next him owns that spot and Busck is running a close second.

  24. John - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:11 PM

    If it weren’t for four solo home runs the Yankees wouldn’t have scored at all for they obviously can’t produce meaningful hits with runners on base. If they continue to rely on homers they’ll be watching the Angels and Phillies play in the World Series.

  25. Mike - Oct 20, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    Pretty unintellegent comment. Were you screaming at the TV Saturday when every move that he made worked perfectly. Everyone loves to blame the manager, but the Yankee offense is two players so far, Jeter and A-Rod. The offense is 3 for 28 with RISP this Series! 4 for 28 means a win last night and 3-0. Of Course, it is more fun to be an armchair manager. If you did your moves, they would be 2-1 losing Saturday but winning yesterday. Wow your smart.

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