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Girardi's use of Russell Martin in the field and at the plate led to failure against Tampa Bay.
Russell Martin is a gritty, wears-his-heart-on-his-sleeve type of player. At times he can be very clutch, both on the field and at the plate, however he is hitting .208 for the season.
Why is he batting fifth in the lineup?
Is it because he can hit with runners in scoring position? A look at the statistics shows that Martin is hitting .226 with RISP, so that clearly isn't the reason. He isn't going to strike fear into any opposing pitcher—certainly not last night's Rays starter David Price—and therefore, he isn't going to provide protection to the number four hitter Robinson Cano.
Joe Girardi is known for relying on statistics (rather than "feel") for guiding his moves on the field and in the lineup. Often he has been referred to as "Binder Joe" or "Looseleaf Joe" because of the frequency that he'll refer to situational stats during a game as a guide. He follows the unwritten rule of Lefty/Righty and Righty/Lefty pitcher verses batter match ups to a fault.
Why then, last night, with one out and the tying run on base, and right-handed Fernando Rodney on the mound did the Yankees manager leave Martin in the game to bat?
At the time, he had left-handers Ichiro Suzuki (one of the games all-time great hitters), Raul Ibanez, and Eric Chavez on the bench. He also had catchers Francisco Cervelli (better hitter, equivalent fielder) and Chris Stewart (acquired for defensive reasons) ready to take the field in the ninth, if needed.
By now, you know the result. Martin swung on a pitch that couldn't have been reached if he was holding a 60-inch bat for the third strike, and after a Raul Ibanez walk, Curtis Granderson grounded out to leave the runner stranded at second base.
With the team still down by just a run, Girardi's decision to leave Martin in the game would continue to haunt the team in the top of the ninth as a stolen base (one of two in that frame) by the Rays, would lead to yet another run after a two-out error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez—leading us to our next point.