During the ninth inning of the Yankees 5-4 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees had three players on the bench; Chase Headley, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez. And with Austin Romine standing in as the final out against Rays closer Alex Colome, it would have been ideal to have Sanchez enter the game with the opportunity to potentially change the outcome.
The problem was interim manager Rob Thomson–who filled in for Joe Girardi while Girardi was tending to a family matter–didn’t use Sanchez at all. Romine ended up grounding out to first and the Yankees lost their second game in a row.
After the game, the media asked Thomson why he didn’t use Sanchez in the ninth inning. Here’s what Thomson had to say:
“I was trying to–and this was my decision–at the start of the game I told Sanchy that unless it was an emergency, I was going to try and give him the day off. That’s what I was trying to do. In order to do that, it kind of limited my pinch-hitting opportunities. I had to pick one guy and really it was going to be (Chase) Headley for (Ronald) Torreyes if somebody got on in the ninth.”
The issue was, the ninth inning was an emergency. An offensive emergency. Sanchez has the power to hit the ball out of Tropicana Field, and the game could have ended differently had Sanchez had a plate appearance.
Thomson didn’t want to take out Romine? Fine. There were other ways of getting Sanchez an at-bat.
It’s understandable the Yankees had Didi Gregorius hit for himself; he’s the starting shortstop and really shouldn’t be pinch-hit for. But the Yankees could of at least lifted Chris Carter to give Sanchez a pinch-hitting opportunity. After all, in Carter’s three at-bats, he notched two strikeouts, and hasn’t looked impressive at the plate other than the series against the Kansas City Royals.
Along with not using Sanchez, Thomson also stuck with a few relievers longer than he should have, namely Adam Warren, who gave up three runs and only recorded two outs, and Tyler Clippard, who gave up the lead run for the Rays.
It was a game of opportunity for the Yankees. But because Thomson didn’t make certain moves, or stuck with struggling pitchers a little too long, the opportunities were squandered, which left the Yankees in a hole they were unable to climb out of.