I think it’s safe to say that the end of the Yankee game yesterday is not what we wanted, nor what we expected. After Mariano Rivera wiggled out of an incredible jam, I fully expected the Yankees to win the game.
Once again, after David Robertson retired the first two batters in the bottom of the 11th, I was expecting him to retire Howie Kendrick to end the inning and give the Yankees another chance to bat. That, however, didn’t happen because Joe Girardi inexplicably took D-Rob out, for Alfredo Aceves who gave up a single to Kendrick, then a walk-off hit to Jeff Mathis.
First, let’s focus on the placing blame:
1. Joe Girardi: there was literally no reason to take out Robertson in that situation. He hadn’t gotten in trouble and there was little history between he and Kendrick (1-2, a single and a strikeout) and there was no history between Kendrick and Aceves. Girardi said he liked the “matchup” better. I don’t know why you’d prefer a lesser pitcher for a good contact hitter, but whatever, that’s only part of the blame for this matchup. We can also place some blame on Girardi for letting Andy Pettitte pitch to Vladimir Guerrero, but blame also lies with Pettitte there for giving Vlad too good a pitch on a 1-2 count.
2. Alfredo Aceves: regardless of the silly pitching change, Alfredo Aceves still has to get the outs. He threw two bad pitches–one right down the middle to Kendrick and one right down the middle to Mathis–and he was punished for it. Giving up a double to a hitter who is pretty much equal to Jose Molina is just inexcusable.
3. Most of the offense: though I didn’t see the whole game–I had work and didn’t get home til about 7:30–from what I heard and what I’ve seen from looking at the box score, the Yankees left a whole mess of people on base, and could’ve broken the game open at any time.
Now, let’s start to get over it. Tough losses happen a lot during the course of the season and there’s no excepting that in the playoffs. The only thing the players should do is focus on today’s game and going out and doing what they can do. Though there is literally no connection between them, the Yankees should look to the Phillies who suffered a frustrating Game Two loss the Dodgers. The next time out, their ace dominated and their offense clicked. The Yankees are in a similar situation for Game Four: their ace will be on the hill and the offense is definitely ready to break out. Let’s all take a deep breath, put this game behind us, and let CC Sabathia go do his thing, and it’ll all be all right.
Lastly, I present an alternative scenario. In the top of the 11th, Mariano Rivera was due up third behind Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter. He had just gotten out of a bases loaded jam and because of Jerry Hairston’s replacement of Johnny Damon in the field, the Yankees had lost the designated hitter. Instead of letting Rivera hit, Girardi replaced him with Francisco Cervelli. On the surface, this seems like the easy move. Rivera’s a pitcher and he really shouldn’t be hitting, right? But, let’s be honest, Frankie C isn’t much of a hitter and probably isn’t a huge upgrade over Mo at the plate. So, what else could they have done? Perhaps Girardi could have let Rivera go to the plate, take three strikes, and have him available to pitch the bottom of the 11th. Though the 10th was high stress, Rivera had cleared Torii Hunter and Vlad, so the 11th would’ve been much less stressful. Regardless of who is up, I trust Mariano Rivera more than anyone else in the Yankee bullpen and would’ve preferred to see him up for a second inning. This could’ve extended the game and given the Yankee offense another chance in the top of the hypothetical 12th.
Despite the second guessing, despite the blame placing, despite it all, the Yankees still lost. It happens. Did we really expect them to be up 3-0 on the Angels? That’s a hard thing to do. The Yankees just need to put it behind them and go out there today with their ace and bounce back.