I have been watching Yankee baseball for over fifty years. The Yankee loss to Cleveland on Friday night was the most incredible managerial debacle I have ever witnessed.
CC Sabathia was the Yankee starter and after a little early trouble, found his stride. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber, clearly the best pitcher in the league this year, struggled and ultimately got knocked out after allowing eight runs and leaving his team with an 8-3 deficit. Comes the sixth inning, Sabathia allows a baserunner and despite having thrown only 77 pitches and really looking smooth, Girardi pulls him. Apparently. the “metrics” which guide the “brilliant” Girardi indicate that CC starts faltering in the sixth inning so despite looking great and maybe letting him go a batter at a time Girardi brings in Chad Green.
Ordinarily, this move would have made sense as Green has been fabulous this year, but not on this night. He had already pitched multiple innings after Severino choked up a lung in the Tuesday Wildcard game, lasting all of 1/3 of an inning. The first pitch he threw you could tell Green did not have his usual juice, the batters were making solid contact, fouling off ball after ball, he wasn’t his usual self regardless of what the radar guns showed. However, it appeared he would escape unscathed despite allowing a couple of runners on base until the umpire missed a call and called a hit batsman when replay clearly indicated a foul tipped strikeout, inning over. Gary Sanchez, the Yankee catcher called “foul, foul”, indicating to the dugout to contest the call, but Girardi, after the video didn’t get seen in time sat on his fat ass and let it slide. He had absolutely NOTHING to lose by protesting the call and should have trusted his catcher and come running out. Instead bases loaded and the s__t hit the fan. Right there, Green, who clearly didn’t have it, should have been pulled. Instead Girardi leaves him in against the very tough Francisco Lindor who proceeds to hit a grand slam 8-7. He then pulls Green, clearly too little, too late and brings in Robertson, who on Tuesday had thrown 52 pitches, and he gets the third out.
The seventh inning goes by without incident and as the Indians get ready to hit in the eighth, who appears on the mound, Robertson, to continue on despite having the longest outing of his career two days before. Where the hell was Betances, who looked like his old self the night before and has been, for most of the season, the eight inning guy. Where the hell was Chapman, a pitcher incredibly tough on lefties who was certainly positioned to go for a two inning save. Indian lefty slugger Jay Bruce gets up and he just sits there watching three curveballs out of the zone knowing that so much of Robertson’s success is based on batters swinging at pitches that are not strikes. What happens, a juicy 92 mph flat fastball (did I mention he had thrown 52 pitches two days before) that Bruce smacks out of the park 8-8. I knew right then and there that the Yanks were done.
But the agony lingered on as the game moved into the top of the eleventh inning when Todd Frazier, the Yanks third baseman, hit a ground ball to third that got airmailed into the stands behind first and he ends up on second base with no outs. I’m beginning to think that maybe the Yanks pull the game out after all. Girardi pulls Frazier, who is no speed demon but not a slow poke either and replaces him with pinch runner Ronald Torreyes, maybe a bit faster than Frazier but no Usain Bolt. What happens, he gets picked off at second base, you could see Frazier’s disgust in the dugout as he threw his water cup. He’s as competitive a player as I have ever seen, the last place he wanted to be was in the dugout, he wanted to be on second base getting ready to bring the winning run home. Now I’m positive the Yanks are done. Sure enough Betances, who should have been pitching the eighth, ends up pitching the eleventh, twelfth and into the thirteenth inning, he NEVER goes three and ultimately gives up a a walk and a hit and the Yanks lose. To have the knife dug in a bit deeper, the winning run came on a ground ball down the third baseline, which maybe the taller, longer armed, better fielding Frazier could have at least knocked down and prevented the run from scoring but the diminutive Torreyes couldn’t reach.
Bottom line, this was a butcher job by Girardi that unless the Yanks miraculously pull off a three game sweep will never be forgotten or forgiven. His contract expires at the end of this season – he manages too much by the book, his nickname is the “Binder”, more importantly has repeatedly pissed off very important players such as CC, Betances and Chapman, he needs to go. In ten years he will have won one World Series, big deal. The Yankees have won twenty seven, it didn’t take two hundred and seventy years. The Yanks need a younger manager, one more adept at dealing with the players and the crazy NY media atmosphere. See ya Joe!!