Thursday, May 21, 2009

Were the Yankees right to pitch Mo in the ninth?

While the Yankees have won eight straight games, the topic of conversation on many minds last night and this morning is whether or not the Yankees abused their demi-god, Mariano Rivera.

If you didn't catch the game last night, here's what happened:

In the top of the eighth inning, it was still a 5-3 game. Phil Coke, pitching, gave up an odd sort of lead off single, retired the next two batters and then was supposed to face Melvin Mora, who was 2-21 lifetime against Mariano Rivera.

So, as you might expect, Joe Girardi decided to bring in Rivera for a four out save, since Brian Bruney pitched the night before and is only just off the DL.

Mo came in and on three pitches retired Mora, no big problem there.

The problem came in the bottom of the inning, when the Yankee offense decided to go BOOM. Of course, scoring the tack on runs was great for the Yankees and the fans, but it also meant that Mo had been sitting for a really long time, and that the Yankees now had an 11-3 lead--not quite the three-runs or less most commonly seen in save situations.

It seemed obvious to everyone that Girardi would go to Albaladejo in the ninth, but somehow, for some reason I didn't stay up to watch, he didn't, leaving Mo into pitch the ninth.

Now, it's understandable if Girardi didn't want to risk the lesser relievers in Albaladejo, Tomko and Veras blowing the lead...but if he has utterly no faith in those relievers in an eight-run game, that doesn't portend very well.

Mo, of course, is something other than human and got through the ninth throwing a total of fourteen pitches on the evening (though he did serve up a home run to a rookie, albeit a legit prospect, but still a rookie), but was it worth the risk?

The argument in one camp is that Mo is 39 years old, and you really don't want to mess with his health, especially after shoulder surgery.

The other argument is that, well, Mo only threw 14 pitches so it's not really a big deal.

I tend towards the camp that Mo didn't need to pitch the ninth inning, but I'm curious. What do you guys thing?