Just thought I would get in a bonus blog as I had received many emails from you folks and I wanted to address them as well as a couple of points I forgot to mention in my blog.
I don’t think it is fair to be critical of Girardi for failing to take Burnett out after 5 straight scoreless innings and 80 pitches, however a quicker hook was probably in order, meaning one batter and done. I think his lack of confidence in Hughes and Joba was also a reason to try and squeeze a few more outs of AJ. The downside was the long inning before makes you lean toward starting Joba or Hughes. While in hindsight my choice might not have been correct as Joba didn’t pitch well, he would have been my choice to start the 7th.
Some people mentioned pinch hitting for Swisher in the 9th inning. I can hardly disagree with that thought as I was the one who said I didn’t have confidence Thursday night in Swisher. However, it underscores exactly what I have been saying the Yankees need; specialists. If you have a righty and lefty killer to go along with a speedy pinch runner and a defensive replacement you are set. What we needed was a lefty killer in the 9th inning and that makes the move a no brainer. I mean pinch hitting with Hairston, while maybe preferable to a lost Swisher is a better option; it still is not a good option. One interesting point here is that Girardi made a mistake by not bringing in Gardner as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the 7th. Swisher had just made his bookend second out to end the inning and I have no idea why the defensive substitution was not made with a 2 run lead and 9 outs to go? At the time I thought it was a must move that Girardi fell asleep on. The interesting part is that if he did make that move, it would have been Gardner up in the 9th inning against Fuentes. Which means that most likely Hairston would have pinch hit and maybe the outcome would have been different?
I wrote that I wanted Gardner to start against Lackey to begin with and the way Swisher played, it would have been much better. Gardner probably won't play against a left in Saunders who is tougher on lefties. Yes Gardner hit better against lefties in 50 AB's this year, but usually that is not the case with him. That being said, one of the main reasons you play Gardy is because he makes the team MUCH better defensively. He can save a double compared to Melky and then Melky is better than Swisher in RF. The important part here is that with Swisher struggling you probably won’t lose offense and you gain a lot defensively. Sadly Swisher only has one more hit than Gardner in these playoffs as Gardy is 2-3 and Swisher is 3-29.
Most likely the two pitchers we have the most confidence in are Robertson and Marte. It appears Marte is the choice form the left side now and I wonder if Girardi will give more time to Robertson if Pettitte goes a solid 6 or so.
Speaking of how to use the bullpen, a few of you brought up something I had mentioned last year and that is to use your best pitcher in what appears to be (it may not be) the key moment in the game. While it is rarely done in the 7th inning, with 1st and 2nd and nobody out it is not totally absurd to use Rivera right at that spot with the meat of the Angels lineup coming up. In general I am more in favor of that when the traditional “setup guy pitches the 8th and closer pitches the 9th” situation happens and the 8th inning has the 2-5 hitters coming up and the setup guy has a tough inning and your best pitcher gets to pickup the save against the 6-9 hitters. Either way, I am not opposed to Rivera getting in when it is needed and then figuring out a way to close out the game…
Hopefully the Yankees have learned to throw more breaking stuff.
Many people felt it was not smart to pinch run for ARod and part of the reason was that Guzman never tried to steal. I believe it was the correct move even if he didn’t try and steal. First priority is giving your team the best chance to tie the game in that spot and having a faster runner does that. You need to make sure that on a double you can score. You also have a guy who can steal a base and that puts pressure on the pitcher and catcher to throw less breaking stuff and to alter their concentration and delivery. In this case it might have worked as Matsui walked and then he hit Cano? It wasn’t as obvious as the defensive replacement for Swisher, but it is the right move IMO.
The weather entering the NY area is bad for the Yankees. It really looks like the game will be cancelled tomorrow judging from the forecast. This hurts us a lot because it means that Lackey will be available to pitch game 7. It also means that if the series does go 7, that CC would pitch Monday instead of Sunday and it also means that game 7 will be another day closer to the WS. First and foremost you have to win THIS series. 2nd, you would like to do it in 6 games so that CC can pitch 3 times in the WS (twice on 3 days rest). If we win in 6, CC will have a lot of time off before the series so he should be OK. If the series goes 7 (Monday) CC can’t get 3 games in barring a few rain outs. If CC pitches Monday he would pitch his first game in game 3 on Saturday because Thursday (game 2) would only be 2 days of rest. CC would then pitch game 7 if necessary. It also means that we need to get to game 7 ties with CC only pitching once out of the 6 games.
In thinking this through I think it is better to pitch Pettitte in game 6 and hope we win and then if he doesn’t you still have CC to pitch game 7. The way I see it, it does not lessen the chances of us beating the Angels (I don’t believe in the momentum factor) but it does increase our chances of winning the WS IF we get there. The only negative factor in CC going Monday instead of Sunday is that it is possible that if there is one day of rainout CC could pitch game 7 if it were timed well. Further, even if no game was called, If CC pitched on 3 days rest he could be available out of the pen for game 7. Weighing all that, I pitch Pettitte on Sunday assuming Saturday is rained out
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...