Brandon Hyde 1, Aaron Boone 0.

In the event you missed the season’s second game between the Yankees and the Orioles, I’ve got your back.  Here’s what you need to know:

Using an “opener” works.  Yesterday, one of the worst teams in baseball held one of the best offenses in baseball to one run through eight innings and only three runs overall.  This was in no small part the result of the Orioles getting 6 innings from a combined three pitchers who all throw right-handed who were facing a Yankee lineup that had eight straight right-handed batters in it.  Why did it have eight straight right-handed batters?  Because Baltimore started a left-handed pitcher and got two innings out of him before going to what would be a 6 inning long platoon advantage against the Yankees.  Brandon Hyde 1, Aaron Boone 0.

Brandon Hyde out manages Aaron Boone, part 2:  With a 3-1 lead, the Orioles manager went to the team’s best reliever, Michael Givens, in the 8th inning.  Why the 8th inning instead of saving him for the 9th?  Because good hitters (Luke Voit, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez, and Gleyber Torres) were due up and the game was on the line.  That’s when you bring in your best relief pitcher, inning number be dammed.  Bringing in your best relief pitcher with possibly a bigger lead in the 9th inning against the other team’s 8, 9 hitters is a waste of bullets from your best gun.  Givens pitched a scoreless 8th, then the Orioles added 2 more runs in the top of the 9th to make it a four-run lead.  Now with a four-run lead, statistically speaking, pretty much any pitcher in baseball can close the game out for the Orioles.  You, me and/or Richard Bleier (who Hyde went with) will close out that game 99.9% of the time for your team.  So when Bleier got beat up and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, what happened?  Nothing.  The Orioles won anyway.

Brandon Hyde used his best pitchers and matchups when the game was close and his worst pitchers when the game was not.  This is an unbelievably simple concept that I’ve been railing for years that Yankee managers do not understand.  Hyde’s choices yesterday put a crappy team in a position to beat a great team – and they did.  This is an “if the Yankees lose a close race to the Red Sox this year, remember this game” game to me.  Our manager got out managed.  Period.  (Not to take away anything from the Oriole’s bullpen, who were great.  The best strategy only works if the players play and the Orioles bullpen did.)

Other related, but random stuff:

D.J. LeMahieu can play the field.  In the top of the 4th, LeMahieu made a nice pick up of a ground ball to his left that he turned into a 5-4-3 double play.  Going to the ground and making the play was pretty impressive, but what got my attention was his footwork.  LeMahieu popped off the ground and set his feet (right foot first then left foot if you’re right-handed) and made a good throw to second base to start the double play.  Most fielders just fling the ball from wherever their feet are and the ball sails or goes into the ground.  Good fielders quickly set the feet and fire a good throw.  It’s one of the often unnoticed aspects of fielding that separates bad fielders from good.

Jimmy Yacabonis (New Jersey’s own) has nasty stuff.

James Paxton is fun to watch.  Works fast, throws strikes.

I wonder why when Paul O’Neill repeatedly says that it’s hard to expect four or five guys to be perfect as justification for not using multiple relievers, why no one asks him is it a lot to expect one guy to be perfect for the entire game?

O’Neill logic, redux:  With the Yankees trailing 5-2, O’Neill spoke one of my favorite silly old announcer adages:  “Your job is to not hit a home run, but to get on base.”  Yep, trailing 5-2 is always better than trailing 5-3, Paul.

When you’re a great baseball player, math skills are optional.

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