Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of an Unlikely Victory (Postgame Notes 25 August 2009)

The win was there for the taking.

Down by five runs in the ninth, the Yankees clawed back to within one run, and had men on second and first base with no one out and Swisher at the plate.

Nick Swisher doesn't much like hitting at Yankee Stadium, but he still draws quite a few walks, and against a pitcher that couldn't throw strikes, the call for him to bunt in that situation will likely haunt Joe Girardi and the Yankees until their next win.

The bunt may have been the conventional move and the by-the-book move, but there were two problems with it: Swisher's not a typical bunter, and Frank Francisco had been showing himself to be eminently hittable.

The only significant problem I have had with Joe Girardi all year is that he plays by the book just a little too often.

Sometimes--rarely, but still--momentum or a unique situation calls for the book to be thrown out the window.

That's exactly tonight. The Yankees had sent six men to the plate before Swisher in the ninth inning, and all six of them had reached via walk or hit.

When Swisher showed bunt, it became clear that Girardi was playing for the tie and not the win (which is normal when you're home), but one has to ask, had this been any other inning, would Swisher really have bunted there? If this game was on the road, would Swisher have bunted there?

Absolutley not.


That aside, this game wasn't lost in the ninth inning. It was lost when Joba Chamberlain blew a 4-0 lead.

Some stuff from Joe P. of River Ave Blues:

Nine of 10 runs scored after bases empty, two outs...in both innings Joba allowed runs, it came down to his inability to retire the No. 9 hitter...

Sure, it'd have been nice if Chad Gaudin had not given up those two bombs, but Gaudin didn't put the Yankees in a 7-4 hole to start.

Right now, the fact that Joba is the Yankees' #4 starter in the postseason is a little disconcerting. He's still young, but he's got some serious on-field growing up to do.