The big weekend series with the Sawx is now in the books. Friday night’s game summary was great relief pitching from Adam Warren, and the return of Aaron Hicks – Yankees win (thuhh…Yankees win!). Saturday the Yankees gave up 10 runs in 5 innings, so not too much to talk about there.
Then Sunday night things got interesting…
With the game tied at one in the 8th inning, I wrote on Facebook “One thing the Yankees have going for them is that John Farrell is pretty dumb. He’s bound to mismanage a bullpen decision.”
The good news is that I was right – he actually mismanaged several. The bad news is, in spite of Farrell’s attempts to hand them the game the Yankees lost a big opportunity to win a game that would have a big impact on the standings. This was in no small part due to Joe Girardi doing his darndest to one up Farrell in the “WTF are you doing” department of decision making. Managers aside, the game really came down to a tip your cap moment: A 20-year-old left handed batter, just recently called up to the big leagues, hit a 103 mph fastball from a left handed pitcher over the wall…as a pinch hitter… (Insert my “Daammmnnnn….” expression.)
Sometimes you get beat. It happens. But even though Rafael Dever’s home run was the turning point, and to me the decisive factor in the game, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t other unusual (ahem) happenings, primarily brought on by the typically Luddite managers.
Let’s start where my Facebook post left off – bottom of the 8th, game tied at one:
Farrell brings in Matt Barnes to pitch. That was the first time I said “Thank you, John Farrell.” For those scoring at home, the baseball’s 2nd best relief pitcher was sitting in the Boston bullpen at the time, watching along with the rest of us. But it wasn’t the 9th inning and the Red Sox weren’t leading, so you know, baseball logic…Anyone who still believes in the construct that is the role of the “closer”, answer me this: If you’re a Yankee fan, were you glad Craig Kimbrel stayed in the bullpen there, or would you rather have had Farrell put him in that spot?
Two walks from Barnes, a single and a sac fly later, 2-1 Yankees. Then Farrell brought in somebody named Scott. Once again, thank you, John Farrell.
Then in the top of the 9th, the aforementioned Rafeal Devers hit a home run off Aroldis Chapman to tie the game. I mentioned it, but it bears repeating: This is the big leagues – sometimes the other guys play well. If a 20-year-old who was just called up to the major leagues can hit a 103 mph fastball over the wall in a left on left situation, while pinch hitting, you tip your cap. There is no need to evaluate further. Get bummed out if you’re rooting for the Yankees, enjoy it as a fan.
Before moving on with what happened next, I want to touch on two points:
First, if I told you Chapman was in the zone (literally and figuratively) at 103 against a kid lefty you would take that 100 times out of 100. Anyone complaining (again) about Chapman is using the result to justify their position instead of the logic beforehand. Baseball is hard. No one will be perfect. But again, you’re going to win that battle far more often than not, and we wouldn’t be discussing Chapman’s performance.
Secondly, remember when the scuttlebutt was that the Yankees wanted Todd Frazier to keep Boston from acquiring him? Um, yeah, about that…that not only keeps Garrett Cooper on the Yankee bench but it put Devers on the Boston roster. Dave Dombrowski just sent flowers to Brian Cashman…
On to the bottom of the 9th, game tied at two. Farrell brings Addison Reed into pitch. Thank you again, John Farrell. At this point I’m thinking Farrell will bring Kimbrel into a 8-2 game tomorrow because he needs the work. There’s a leadoff walk from Headley (remember who told you he needs to be leading off…)
Game winning run on first base, nobody out, Ronald Torreyes is due up with Austin Romine on deck. Garrett Cooper is sitting on the bench, Tyler Wade is sitting on the bench.
As I’m wondering if Farrell is on the Yankees payroll the way he’s giving the game away, Joey Lineup steps in and says hold my Poland Spring…
Girardi has Torreyes give away an out (i.e. “bunt”), moving Headley to 2nd base. Then Joey Lineup calls on Jacoby Ellsbury to pinch hit for Romine, which costs the Yankees the DH position as Gary Sanchez now needs to move behind the plate with Romine out of the game.
Ellsbury hits the ball weakly (even if you didn’t see the game, you knew that happened, didn’t you?) THEN Farrell brings Kimbrel in to pitch. (Shakes head…) Kimbrel strikes Brett Gardner out, Boston scores in the 10th, the Yankees don’t, the Yankees lose.
Farrell’s 20th century managing turned out not to cost the Red Sox. Losing the DH turned out not to matter to the Yankees.
But we’ll never know if the other decisions Girardi made would have made a difference.
Because I do know this:
- A man on 1st with no out scores more often than a runner on 2nd with one out does.
- Both Garrett Cooper and Tyler Wade are better options than both Torreyes and Ellsbury.
I know Joey Lineup didn’t have an explanation for those choices because no one on the Simpleton Summer Camp (YES network) post game show would think to ask. They were no doubt busy with the “How did it feel to…” questions.
But I do know that this is yet another loss that may have been avoided in a season that will be decided by a few games. There have been far too many this season like it for my tastes. I hope I’m wrong but this is starting to look like the season that Girardi mismanaged. How’s that for the title of the 2017 DVD recap?
- For every time I give Cashman grief for his decision making, I’ll remind myself the Yankees gave up John Ryan Murphy for Aaron Hicks.
- Jessica Mendoza on ESPN is the 2nd best commentator I’ve heard over the past two seasons, David Cone being the best. I hope the obvious lesson there is learned by all networks. My guess is that it won’t and they’ll surely continue to look to former ex-players for no reason other than…ex-players.
- Speaking of ex-players and baseball not learning lessons…Putting ex-players in charge of personnel and strategical decisions is the worst thing a team can do. Evidence has borne this out for decades. This is why the Miami Marlins are screwed with Derek Jeter calling the shots. More on this soon…