Joe Girardi has quite the experience managing and playing for American League and National League teams. That’s why it was easy for Girardi to push all the right buttons in a game that needed to be won on the Yankees side.
The beginning of the game was simple; Girardi placed Matt Holliday at first base in an effort to get his bat in the lineup. He also started Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Judge in the outfield. But as the game went on and became more bizarre, Girardi continued to push the right buttons, even when the Yankees were having difficulty scoring runs against the Chicago Cubs bullpen.
Girardi couldn’t foresee the Yankees losing Judge and Holliday for another nine innings after he took them out. He also couldn’t anticipate his closer blowing a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. But after Aroldis Chapman blew the save, Girardi promptly went to Tyler Clippard who retired the final batter of the inning and forced the Yankees to play extra innings.
He plugged in players that weren’t supposed to see time during the series finale; Girardi put Brett Gardner in left, he used Chris Carter at first, he even used Gary Sanchez behind the plate while keeping Austin Romine in the game as the first baseman.
Girardi mixed and matched during the 18-inning affair, and for most of the game, the Cubs were able to counter Girardi’s moves. However, the Cubs started tipping their hand when they started using pitchers as pinch-hitters, notably Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks.
Chasen Shreve and Girardi worked out a game plan in the bottom of the 18th inning after the Yankees scored the go-ahead run at the top of the frame. After getting two quick outs, Shreve ended up walking Kris Bryant, which resulted in the Yankees intentionally walking Anthony Rizzo. The next batter in the inning was none other than Hendricks, who was Friday’s starter against the Yankees.
In a National League ball park, the Cubs had the advantage from the ninth inning on, since one run in their half of the inning could have ended the game. However, with Hendricks as the Cubs last resort, the Yankees had the Cubs right where they wanted them. So how did the 18-inning affair work out for the Yankees?
Shreve struck out Hendricks to end the game.
We all learned quite a few things on Sunday. We learned ESPN should reconsider having Sunday Night games at 8 p.m.. We learned more than we wanted to know about Joe Maddon‘s RV (seriously, they played the clip before the game, we didn’t need to see it during a few at-bats). But most of all, we learned Girardi is a superb manager, who pushed all the right buttons to get his team the series sweep against the World Series champions.
Now, it’s onto Cincinnati…where the Yankees will take on the Reds in a quick two-game series. Well, let’s hope it’s quick. The Yankees can’t afford another six-hour game, especially after they exhausted their entire roster on Sunday night.