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Ron Gardenhire complains about Yankees' pitcher switch

May 27, 2010, 8:20 AM EDT

This was fun. The Yankees took the lead in the top of the ninth last night on a Nick Swisher home run, but the inning ended a pitch later when Mark Teixeira was thrown out trying to leg out a double.  The half-inning ended so quickly that Joe Girardi barely had time to get Mariano Rivera up to start throwing — it was a save situation now, don’t you know — and it was so obvious that even Rick Sutcliffe noticed it.

Despite the fact that he was seen putting on his jacket and toweling off in the top half of the inning — the universal sign for “I’m totally done pitching in this game — Andy Pettitte came out to take his warmup pitches in the bottom of the ninth.  Before he could throw a pitch, however, Joe Girardi came out and called for Rivera, who had finally warmed up.  I don’t think I was imagining Francisco Cervelli laughing a bit as he came out to the mound for the switcheroo.

Ron Gardenhire didn’t find it so funny:

“No, he wasn’t going to throw a pitch. That was kind of tired, to
tell you the truth. You don’t know normally get that long between
innings to do all that, but we know what’s going on there. That’s a situation major league baseball needs to take care of when
stuff like that happens. You don’t have a guy ready in the bullpen, if
your starter goes out there, he should have to face a hitter. That’s
just the way it should be. If you don’t get a guy up, that’s the way it
should be, unless the other team makes a change.

“But that’s not what lost the game for us. That’s stuff that just
gets old right there.”

This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened — I want to say I remember Bobby Cox doing this with Mark Wohlers or John Rocker or someone in the 90s — and I can’t really see how it prejudices the hitting team, but it is the kind of thing that feel, I dunno, weird.

But maybe the weirdest thing about it is why Joe Girardi didn’t just leave Pettitte out there anyway. He had only thrown 94 pitches and Rivera had already pitched in the resumption of the suspended game. The answer can’t be that Pettitte was tired, because if that were the case he would have been tired even if the game had remained tied. Girardi didn’t have anyone warming up before the Swisher homer, however, so I’m going to assume that if the game had stayed tied Pettitte would’ve pitched the ninth.

So basically all of that shuffling was designed to get Mariano Rivera a save.  Ah, the save: the only statistic that dictates how the game is played rather than merely reflects what happens.

  1. smsetnor - May 27, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    YANKEE HATER! What’s your problem with Jeter anyway, the guy is a pro.
    There, that should save about 80 commenters some time and maybe some work can get done in New York today.

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - May 27, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Is this gamesmanship, unwritten rules or something else procedural that mere mortals like us are unable to comprehend.
    I’m a bit sick of these overly sensitive baseball guys getting steamed when there’s the slightest hint of trickeration.

  3. Alex K - May 27, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    This happened in a Cubs game last week. While it isn’t a big deal, it is rather annoying to sit through a pitching change right after you sit through the time between innings.
    I agree, Jason. Athletes and coaches all need to just chill a little. Not every bit of trickeration is that big of a deal.

  4. Anon - May 27, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    I’m a Twins fan, and I thought this was a very clever move by Girardi. It’s either against the rules or it’s not. It’s apparently not against the rules, so Gardy has nothing about which to complain. Other than the fact that his organization has so overplayed their “sruggling small market” card that his players believe it and, thus, are scared of the big, bad Yankees. And that this team has gotten about 3 clutch hits all season.

  5. YankeesfanLen - May 27, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Andy had just got pounded around in the 8th and was saved by a double play that would probably be successful only 1/4 of the time.
    Seconds before the ninth ended with Swisher’s homer (and Tex trying for 2nd), there was no one warming up with the potential for extra innings, under which circumstances Andy would have pitched the ninth.
    Uh-oh, it’s not a no hitter get Mo up IN A HURRY and stall.
    The Twins-Yanks games are always among the most exciting of the year- lead changes, pitching duels, great plays. Why this strategy is looked upon askance by Gardenhire is beyond me.
    I can’t imagine a scenario where the Universe would have done otherwise

  6. Matt - May 27, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Yeah, but during the 8th the Yankees had Marte and Mitre both warming up (I was there and saw them both out there throwing). I can’t imagine that sitting back down for the top of the 9th caused those two to instantly become cold again (no more than any pitcher sitting in the dugout gets every half inning).
    It sure seemed like Pettitte was done after the 8th no matter what and one of those guys was going to pitch the 9th in the tie game, until the Yankees scored a run.

  7. ralphdibny - May 27, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    I’d say the win dictates game strategy as well. How often have you seen a struggling pitcher laboring through the fifth just to qualify for the win?

  8. poppysmom - May 27, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Hmmmmm…Gardenhire has nothing to say about how Andy Pettitte needed only 94 pitches…very few of them balls …to mow through his team in 8 innings????? Perhaps that should be the focus rather than how the switch was made.

  9. YankeesfanLen - May 27, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Have you ever seen Marte or Mitre pitching in the bottom of the ninth in a one run game? I appreciate you TwinFandom, but the situation had changed completely and they were warming for extra innings, which didn’t happen.
    And Girardi wants to be able to return to the Stadium Friday night before the Indians come to town without a Groucho Marx disguise.
    Captcha: windbag talks- hey, what are you saying, Captcha-You talkin’ to ME.

  10. Matt M - May 27, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Joe Maddon had a pitcher throw his warm-up tosses at the beginning of an inning against the Red Sox earlier this year, then lifted him without letting him throw a pitch. I don’t really see that the other team has much of a beef; but as a fan, it sucks to come back from commercial break to see a manager signal to the pen and go right back to commercial.
    In this case, though, I totally get where Girardi’s coming from. Rivera’s not going into the game unless it’s a save situation (remember he’d already saved a game earlier in the day), so you don’t want to warm him up unless you’re sure you’re using him.
    I don’t see how this is any different from sending the catcher to the mound, followed by the pitching coach, finally followed by the manager to give your reliever time to finish warming up in the pen.

  11. Moses Green - May 27, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Yeah, me too. Some guys totally jump off the deep end if they smell even a faint hint of trickery. Like that guy Joe Girardi who played a game under protest after an injured starter who needed to be DL’d after the game came out mid-inning. He has such high moral standards that he would never do anything like that.

  12. Matt - May 27, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Since this is a Yankee fan forum and all Yankees are by definition geniuses I am a bit wary of pointing out that there manager is a pussy, and if this had happened to him he would have moseyed on out to the umps and protested the game, as that is what he does.
    Secondly, I would not be surprised to see the team fined under some theory regarding length of game rules.
    Third, next time some Yankee fan or media whore mentions that the reason Yankees games are so long is something other than their general bullshit (and the 15 seconds it takes between throws to first for Pettite to find and scratch his shriveled ball) point them to the great fun it was to watch both Pettite and Rivera warm up, plus watching Mo jog in from the bullpen.
    But fair’s fair, the Yankee closer got the outs, the Twins closer didn’t. However, Franco Zeferreli or whatever her name is better wear the extra padding on his ass if he plays today, as I suspect he’s going to get hit.

  13. mike in MN - May 27, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Wake me up when Mauer starts putting fear into an opponent and earning his money. Wake me up when Kubel or Cuddy or Young do their jobs. Until then, this is a team that can’t play with the big boys or in the post season.

  14. Moses Green - May 27, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Mauer is hitting the crap out of the ball, as is Morneau. As they both always do. The Twins don’t have any other hitters, they never have, and they probably never will. But to focus your frustration on Mauer is ridiculous. How about ownership and management, since they’re supposed to acquire and start big-league hitters?
    This is the team that DFA’d David Ortiz. Couldn’t use him. He only has 279 HR’s since then, but I see why they didn’t like him, the guy can’t bunt or hit opposite field.

  15. Will - May 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    This happens all the time, but it only becomes news when the Yankees do it. What a surprise.
    Managers buy time in more way than just this one. How often have we seen a pitcher throw over to first repeatedly while a reliever warms feverishly in the bullpen? What about the slow visits to the mound by each infielder? Let’s not pretend that Girardi’s actions were rare.
    Also, why would Girardi summon the greatest closer in the history of the game with a one-run lead in the ninth? Do you really need to ask that question?

  16. Moses Green - May 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    It’s really funny how all you pinstriped pinheads like to ignore the fact that Girardi was a big ole baby about something more legit LAST WEEK.

  17. RobRob - May 27, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    I don’t see how this is any different from sending the catcher to the mound, followed by the pitching coach, finally followed by the manager to give your reliever time to finish warming up in the pen.

    It’s no different, and it’s just as annoying. It’s kind of funny though, considering that Girardi complained about the Red Sox taking Becket out of a game due to (what he considered a phantom) injury just last week.

    Gardenhire doesn’t have much to complain about here as far as the tactical rationale, but he’s right on the mark from a pace-of-play argument.

  18. YankeesfanLen - May 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    Now, Matt, you’ve got the Tigers, Indians, Royals and White Sox to pick apart where you get a lot closer to the Division title. Mauer and Morneau are great players but they can’t put it together when they play the Yankees, so talk to them and don’t make up imagined trickery.
    Last night’s game was only 2:41 even with Andy’s fiddley-farting to first base which I have gotten used to over 15 years
    And, I continue to do my best to make this a “Yankees forum”

  19. mike in MN - May 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Mauer is not hitting the crap out of the ball. He’s on pace for less than 15 home runs. That’s not what you need form a guy that is about to become one of the 10 highest paid players in all of team sports. It’s not enought to live up to the contract. Sorry, I know many will disagree, but you need to actually do more than he’s doing to be paid that much money (from an opportunity cost perspective, I could have a real 3B and a real LF for what I’m paying him starting next year, and still have money left over to have a good – though not great – catcher)….As for Ortiz, no one picked him up unitl Boston had an injury. It’s not like anyone else thought he was any good. I won’t defend how they coached him here, I never liked it. But those coaches (and to some extent) that philosophy are long gone here. The coaches and manager are quite clear that they want Young and Cuddeyer hitting big hits, not moving runners over. Sports are mostly won by teams that have stars, Mauer is a star, he’s one of the best hitters in baseball. But, hitting singles means that your teammates also need to be hitting for the team to score. Hitting doubles and homeruns, like AROD or others that are paid that much money, well, you don’t need teammates at that point. If Mauer is going to make $23MM per year, he needs to carry the team, that’s the burden he chose by demanding and getting that much money. If he can’t carry the team, he’s not worth that much money (not on the field, maybe at the box office).

  20. Moses Green - May 27, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    The reason you know that most will disagree with you is you know you’re wrong. Pre-contract you loved him now he’s crap? Duh. He’s on pace to set a career high in doubles. Last year was a HR anomaly, no one but you actually thought he was suddenly a HR hitter. .340 BA and 12 doubles from your catcher, who’s also the best defensive catcher not named Molina? Sign me up.

  21. Ber - May 27, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    @ Moses Green, While I don’t think much of what Girardi did in that game against the Redsox, There is a big difference between that and last night’s game: What the redsox did was officially against the rules of the game. There is no rule about the way Joe changed the pitchers last night.

  22. scatterbrian - May 27, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    “This is the team that DFA’d David Ortiz.”
    See, I like to think of them as the team that believed in Matt LeCroy.

  23. Jonny spoiler - May 27, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    I think Gardy is more miffed because he has been fined in June of 2008 for an incident involving prolonging a game.
    Although it was a different situation it seems to indicate that clearly there are rules that can be enforced if an umpire chooses to enforce them. I’d wat to make a scene too if MLB had fined me and then let this happen.

  24. Moses Green - May 27, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    hee hee
    @Ber – The Red Sox took out an injured starter, Josh Beckett, in the middle of the inning. He missed a previous start with an injury, re-injured himself, and had to be removed. Under that situation, the reliever gets unlimited mound time to warm up. By Rule. Girardi didn’t believe he was injured. There is no rule of baseball based on what Girardi does and doesn’t believe. Proof that Beckett was injured (not required fyi) came later when Beckett was DL’d.
    Q. Where exactly is the rule violation?
    A. There wasn’t one, Girardi was just being a crybaby. Even Cashman made fun of him when asked about the protest.
    Joe Girardi is a whiner and a cementhead.

  25. mike in MN - May 27, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    I love Mauer as a player. Where did I ever say he was crap?
    I said that if he’s going to eat 2-3 players’ worth of salary, he needs to carry the team on his back. This team is not going to trade for a guy making huge cash (well, maybe in his last year, but I doubt that). This team is not going to sign some expensive FA. If you make (or will, next year) around 20% of your team’s entire salary, you need to carry the team. The numbers he’s putting up aren’t good enough to do that.

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