What to watch for tonight (AL wild card)

You know how it’s said that managers’ decisions are usually canceled out by how the players perform over 162 games, but managerial decisions can win or lose a playoff series?  Or in tonight’s case, a play in game?

I agree with the sentiment.  Remember Terry Francona in game 7 of the World Series last season?  I think he’s the best in baseball, but he picked the wrong night to have a bad game.

Here are two things to look for tonight when watching Joe Girardi and Paul Molitor call the shots:

  1. As I said in September when I previewed the Twins for a series with the Yankees, Molitor likes to manage. That’s not a compliment.  The twins were 3rd in the AL in sacrifice bunts this season.  In fact, on September 18th against the Yankees, it cost the Twins a shot at the game.  With the Yankees leading 2-1 to start the 8th, Dellin Betances couldn’t hit the water if he fell out of a boat. He hit one batter, walked two, and threw a wild pitch.  You would think that would add up to a big inning and a Twins win (or at least a tie game, right?)    Molitor gave Betances an out with a sacrifice bunt.  The guy who couldn’t get an out was handed one.  Aroldis Chapman came on to bail the Yankees out with a 5 out save.  Watch for Paulie small ball to strike again tonight.
  2. The Yankees were 18-26 in one run games this season, confirming what I’ve said from day one: Girardi has no clue how to handle a bullpen. It’s actually hard to imagine having the best bullpen in baseball and going 18-26 in one run games.  Joe simply has a habit of going to the wrong guy in the wrong situation.  I’d like to think the immediacy of a one game playoff changes his M.O. a little and if (heaven forbid) Luis Severino even sneezes the wrong way, the best arm available will be in immediately.

Of course, there’s a good chance neither of these will be issues, but it’ll be interesting to see if they arise should the game be close late for Minnesota, or scary early for the Yankees.


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