Ever since he replaced the great Joe Torre, Joe Girardi has received much criticism as manager of the New York Yankees.
In 2008, despite winning 89 games, the NYY missed the playoffs due to several injuries and poor performances.
He guided them to the 27th World Championship in 2009, but was often criticized for going to a three-man playoff rotation and over management of his bullpen. Last two seasons he made some questionable moves that contributed to early playoff exits.
But now, here in 2012, he has led them to their third appearance in the ALCS in four years after ace CC Sabathia went the distance in a 3-1 do-or-die Game 5 victory over Baltimore and will now take on the Tigers in a rematch of last year's ALDS—with once again neither Sabathia or Justin Verlander able to start and finish Game 1, which will be tomorrow.
However, if not for some gutsy calls by Girardi, the Yankees might be playing golf by now instead of continuing their run for the 28th title. Joe made some big time calls that changed the series.
In Game 1, he decides to leave in Sabathia in a tie game in the eigth after a leadoff double by JJ Hardy, and he responds by retiring the size, with a pitch count over 100. He ends up coming within an out of a complete game and the Yanks won in a ninth inning-rally started by a Russell Martin HR.
In Game 3, he famously pinch hit Raul Ibanez for a lost Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning. Ibanez responded by tying the game on a HR off Orioles closer Jim Johnson. He leaves him in after lefty Brian Matusz and wins the game on the first pitch in the 12th.
In Game 5, Gerardi benches A-Rod for Eric Chavez and finally starts Ibanez.
In the fifth inning, Mark Teixeira on a bad calf stole second off Matt Wieters and scored on a single by Ibanez.
In the eighth inning, the Orioles got a run back off Sabathia and loaded the bases with one out, but he left Sabathia in.
CC responded by fanning the red hot Nate McLouth, who nearly took him deep in the sixth, and got Hardy to ground to Jeter. He left him in to finish off the game and he went the distance.
Overall, the Yankees pitching has thrown The Yankees threw 51 innings this series. Sabathia, Pettitte, Kuroda, and Hughes threw 39.2 of them, and this is with 7 innings of extra inning baseball. That's a 2.04 ERA. Wow.
Now, the Yankees will take on the Tigers with some questions in the rotation. There is no off day before the ALCS, so they will have played for five straight days at home until Sunday.
Playing a Game 5 will force Girardi to use Andy Pettitte, who was the hard luck loser in Game 2 in Baltimore. Andy will likely face Doug Fister. Game 2, however, will likely force the Yanks to use Hiroki Kuroda on three days rest after pitching 8.1 innings on Wednesday in the Ibanez game.
When the series shifts to Detroit, the Yanks will have to use Sabathia on three days rest against Verlander at Comerica. Both struggled in Game 3 of last year's ALDS. Hughes will get the ball in Game 4, and he looked very good against the Orioles.
If the Yankees are going to advance and perhaps win the World Series this year, Joe Girardi may be the guy responsible for it. He certainly won't win AL Manager of the Year, but he is probably the biggest reason why the Yankees' season will continue