Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Joe Girardi faced the biggest game of his young managerial career, and everyone claims he failed miserably. Girardi had a lot of questionable moves, but this was just his 6th career game as a manager in the postseason, people are suppose to make some mistakes. And in the playoffs, every move is under a microscope.
After Anaheim's 5-4 Game 3 win, no one remembers that Girardi had been a perfect 5-0 in his first post season stint as manager of the NY Yankees. No one remembers how he was 2-0 in extra inning games in these playoffs.
Girardi's biggest blunder was when Brett Gardner was caught stealing with no one out in the top of the 8th. Gardner was put in the game as a pitch runner for Hideki Matsui. Everyone knew there was a high probability that Gardner would attempt to steal second. Girardi sent Gardner on a 0-1 pitch. Mike Sciosia called a pitch out. Gardner was easily thrown out. Score a huge one for the veteran manager.
Then Jorge Posada hit a shot over the centerfield wall. Game tied 4-4, when it could have very easily been Yankees up 5-4.
As for Girardi's micro managing in extra innings? Doesn't every manager do this in extra innings with the season on the line? Jeff Mathis batted .211 for the season. The Angels batted .285 as a team for the season! This should have been the easiest out in the lineup. That's playoff baseball in a nutshell for you. It doesn't matter what kind of regular season you had, anyone can be a hero or a goat come postseason.
Another thing, this game should never had went extra innings, just like Game 2. The Yankees were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in both Game 2 and 3! You just went 0-16 with RISP in two straight playoff games! But then you look and the Yankees went 1-1 in those two games. I think if anything, the Angels are under more pressure because it should be them up 2-1.
As for Joba Chamberlain...I don't know where to begin. But it's obvious the Yankees didn't handle the kid correctly. I always thought he was best off in the bullpen. The guy could pitch 1 to 3 innings in relief. And he would be the closer in waiting for when Rivera was done.
Now, you try to make him a starter, he gets injured and has to visit Dr. James Andrews. Then you set up these "Joba Rules" and that just hasn't worked out. I heard someone actually criticize Girardi for bringing Joba into the an inning with one out and saying Joba's more comfortable beginning an inning. How do you buy that? I'm sure a pitcher is more comfortable having to get only 2 outs instead of 3.
Another thing I heard was that people wanted Mike Scioscia to take Vladimir Guerrero out of the cleanup spot or out of the lineup completely. WTF?! Honestly?! All Vlad has done was give the Angels two of their biggest hits in the post season. In the improbable come from behind Game 3 win in Boston, it was Guerrero who came up with the 2 out game winning hit of Jonathan Papelbon to clinch the AlDS. And then down 3-1 in the bottom of the 6th last night, it was Vlad who saved the season for his team with the two run shot to tie the game off of Andy Pettitte. Yeah, he might actually be slower than Matsui, but the guy has always been a gamer.
One other thought...You know I had to mention Mariano Rivera's performance last night. With the game on the line, Rivera got out of a jam with runners on the corners and no one out! Wow! Building on his legacy, Rivera's postseason ERA is now 0.72!
It would have been nice to go up 3-0 and pretty much march to the World Series, but the Yankees basically need to split the next 2 in Anaheim. They have their ace available for two games. They have possibly two home games left. And both A.J. Burnett and Pettitte pitched solid against the Angels. The Yankees are still in control of this series, but now Game 4 is that much more bigger.