Our offense did not get the job done, but our skipper messed up and clearly limited our chances of winning this game. Before I go through the game and some of the issues I had with Girardi, it should be noted that Scherzer was a little lucky in his wildness (“effectively wild’). He missed his target an awful lot, but instead of being low and outside he hit the inside corner, instead of a fastball inside he painted the top of the strike zone with his fastball and on and on. The ones that are probably the easiest to remember are the two changeup strike outs he got on Swisher and Granderson, but this happened on at least 20 pitches. That was just unfortunate for us. That being said we didn’t swing the bats well at hittable pitches.
Garcia did OK, but the HR by Cabrera was just a great hitter doing enough to hit out at the small section of the field…it happens…but Girardi let Garcia stay in a little too long…more on this as I discuss Girardi doing a terrible job in the postseason again.
First to the 2 glaring mistakes Girardi made:
Pinch hitting for Gardner was just flat out stupid. There was no rhyme or reason to do it in that spot. The Yankees are down 4-0 with 1st and 2nd and one out. If the Yankees had the bases loaded and you wanted to take a chance on hitting a HR to tie the game, I could see that maybe you roll the dice, but Chavez is NOT a big HR guy for one, that should be reserved for Montero, but this was not the spot as you need base runners and to chip away at the lead. Gardner got the huge 2 out hit in game 1. This move was so bad because we didn’t gain anything with Chavez, Chavez could have been used later for either Martin or Jones who had to play LF (thankfully no balls got hit his way) and then came up in a crucial spot late in the game. It was really inexplicable to me as it didn’t help short term and hurt us all long terms a lot because this spot was going to come up again if we were going to win. The fact it didn’t work is not justification of anything except Joe making a terrible move and showing him he pushed the wrong button.
The 2nd glaring mistake was Girardi giving up on the game in the top of the 9th inning. He started Ayala which was questionable as Soriano and Robertson are almost too fresh, but once the guy is in scoring position (after Ayala hit the batter and then they sacrificed him over, you have to try and stop another run from scoring and keep the game at a 3 run deficit (it was 4-1 after Granderson homered). Girardi gave up on the game and Ayala allowed a single to put the game even farther out of reach.
Other Girardi issues…After Jeter made another lousy throw that tex couldn’t handle, but probably should have (this was one of those plays where he makes the dramatic scoop play and I just want the play made, it was pretty much a short hop that should be made most of the time), Garcia allowed a single to Ordonez (who was all over Garcia) and it was 1st and 3rd with nobody out. With the score 2-0, Garcia got Young to strike out. Now up came Cabrera, walking him is a possibility, but honestly as good as he his, that is a tough one because he is a DP candidate. The matchup is bad though and going to someone in the pen like Wade was a possibility as well. Joe had options and just decided to pitch to Cabrera (who had homered off of him). He got a single and made the score 3-0. I think it was now time to make move with Garcia as they had seen him enough times and it was time to use the huge bullpen we have in this series. Joe decided to stick with Garcia and once again pushed the wrong button, as he singled to make it 4-0. With the damage done and the lefty Avila coming up Girardi went to Logan, who got the job done with no further damage.
In the 9th, After a HR by Swisher and an amazing triple by Posada and a walk to Martin, up steps Andrew Jones. Here is where I could have seen pinch hitting for Gardner in trying to tie the game, but letting Gardner hit wouldn’t have been a terrible move either (the options are not great). However, because the move was made already you had Jones up and Chavez out of the game…I would have gone to Montero in this spot. Jones has been awful all year against righties and while he did end up hitting a nice drive to RF, it was on the type of pitch that Montero could have homered to right. If you are looking to hit a HR, how is Montero not stepping to the plate in that spot? Fastballs are what he hits best and Valverde was grooving them. Girardi once again pushes the wrong button and Jones gets out.
No more mistakes at this point by Girardi, but if it wasn’t Jeter stepping to the plate and it was someone else with Jeter’s numbers stepping to the plate, Montero could have pinch hit in this spot as well. In fact, Jeter’s swings were so feeble (not sure why as he hasn’t been swinging so badly) that we all said, I just hope when he makes an out he doesn’t hit into a DP (this is true). So the guy who “always comes through when you REALLY need him” strikes out. BTW, I hate when people say comments like that because they are simply not true…for anyone – Jeter has been great, but he isn’t better in clutch spots. Anyway, after a Granderson walk (and a lucky dropped popup) we had our best guy at the plate. Shockingly, Valverde gave him a lot of good pitches to hit, but Robbie couldn’t center them and then grounded out on a splitter to end the game.
It was shame that every big AB it seemed the rains were pouring down and outside of if the pitcher slips when he throws, it is a big advantage to the pitcher.
Last point was to reiterate I would have pinch hit Montero…the guy has a .996 OPS and all 4 of his homers have been against righties; I can’t believe that weapon was not attempted to be used. Jones OPS against righties was .709 this year and Montero’s .878. FWIW, Chavez’ OPS against righties is only .687…yes, Chavez is worse than Gardner (.738) yet Joe made the inexplicable move.
This team is so talented that we can overcome Girardi, but I would be on the phone talking to the X Boston manager to be at least a bench coach and maybe a manager…I like Francona…and Girardi rubs me the wrong way. Just to be clear, Girardi is not a horrible manager, but mediocrity is not what we want as a Yankee skipper.