Monday, October 19, 2009

A Taste of Their Own as Angels Walk Off on Yanks

Generalizations never achieve much, but in this occasion, one generalization can explain a lot.

The Yankees lost game three of the 2009 ALCS because Joe Girardi managed a road game as if he were still home.

You can call it over-managing if you'd like--and indeed, it probably was--but managing the game the way Girardi does at home is not nearly as much of an issue as it is on the road, especially in extra innings.

1) At home, one run by your team in extras and the game is over. You don't have to worry about scoring, and then pitching again in the bottom of the inning as you do on the road.

2) On the road, one run from the other team and the game is over. Your offense doesn't get another shot.

So here's the breakdown.

1) The Yankees' biggest issue in this game--and, it's looking like their biggest issue this series--is a lack of hitting with runners on base. Every Yankee run today was via a solo home run, and while the Yankees have had decent enough pitching to win when they score four runs much of the time, much is not all. The Yankees had golden opportunities to add to their lead, and they did not. Andy Pettitte made one bad pitch, and well, boom. A 3-1 cushion is not a big cushion, at all.

2) I don't have an issue with leaving Pettitte in to face Guerrerro although I admit that, since I did not have a computer handy, I don't know what his pitch count was at the time. My issue is with the pitch Pettitte threw: there was no reason, in that situation, to give Guerrerro anything to hit. Guerrerro swings at, well, everything. Sabathia and Burnett can blow it by the former Expo; Pettitte cannot.

3) Chamberlain looked awful. Girardi was quick with his hook, but, alas, not quick enough. Someone--and I can't remember where I read this, so apologies to whomever I should be citing--said that this postseason, Joba's fastball has been there but his slider has not, which may explain why he's been hooked quickly.

The great thing about going to games with well-informed fans is that you get excellent analysis as well, and I thus agree with the commenter known as TSJC: Joba tends to overthrow, as though he is too amped and trying to do too much. It's been an issue with him as long as he's been with the Yankees.

4) I did not agree with Girardi's decision to leave Hughes in to start a third inning. Hughes hasn't pitched more than two since what, June? May? And against the heart of the Angels' order, as well, it just didn't make sense to me. Girardi thus made the right call to bring in Rivera, and, well, Mo is simply not mortal.

First and third, no one out, and Rivera got out of the jam. At the time, the Stadium exploded and we thought it was perhaps destiny that we'd win.

5) The biggest issue I had with Girardi's overmanaging was bringing in Aceves to face Kendrick. Robertson had already had two outs, had little history vs Kendrick (if any at all) and is a strike out pitcher. Aceves, on the other hand, has a propensity for giving up fly balls, and as we all saw, the ball certainly carried today. At home, if the other team hits a home run, you still get a chance to get the run back the next day, but on the road, you do not.

As it were, Kendrick singled and Mathis drove him in with a long fly off the wall, but it is my belief that Robertson could have gotten the third out.

6) TSJC had an issue with Girardi replacing Damon with Hairston, not that he did it but when he did it. With the bases loaded and less than two outs, anything hit to left field is likely going to score the winning run, anyway. It makes little sense.

7) If Gardner is inserted into the game to pinch run, he has to run. He has to go on the first pitch--where there's pretty much no chance of a pitch out. Gardner's not in there to hit home runs, and the only reason to remove Matsui's bat is because you are going for the win right then, and need the RISP. If Gardner steals successfully, Posada's home run is a game winning, and not game tying (fallacy of the predetermined and all).

8) GOOD: Jeter's third pitch home run, holy crap what is A-Rod smoking and where can I get some, that Melky-Jeter-Teixeira play in the 8th to nab Abreu (where the heck was Canó on that? We were trying to figure it out!) Mariano is not mortal, and Teixeira is (again) worth it for his defense alone.

Okay. I think I touched on most of the important things. You can argue whether or not Sabathia should have pinch hit for Rivera instead of Cervelli, but there is no way Rivera was going to go out and pitch a second inning.

If Andy Pettitte pitches to Guerrerro a little differently, the Yankees are probably looking at clinching the American League pennant tomorrow and Girardi's overmanaging is a non-issue.

Such as it is, the Yankees will send CC Sabathia out on three days' rest, and a stop-loss here would be crucial.

We said going in that this series would be a dogfight, and with two extra inning games already in the books, it has thus far lived up to its billing.