We could go through this a thousand times. The New York Yankees lost because they left too many men on base. Because they only tried to hit homers and not get on base. Because Joba isn't used to being a reliever anymore. Yadda yadda yadda.
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
We could list all the what-if scenarios and come up with plenty of reasons why every team has lost every game. I'm not doing that. The only one that's even worth considering is the Brett Gardner caught-stealing situation. Had he been on, Jorge Posada's subsequent homer would have knocked in two runs, and the game never makes it to extra innings.
But Gardner was in there to run, and run he did. The Angels knew this and were ready to throw him out.
This is not where the Yankees lost: it's where they failed to win. BIG difference. And like I said, I'm not here to discuss this. While this is more concrete than the other examples (thanks to being a specific, rather than general, example), it is not a reason why they lost.
The Yankees lost for one reason and one reason only: they were outscored. That's how every team loses. The Yankees gave up the winning run in extra innings, so if we want to discuss why they lost, we are only talking about that specific run.
So let's discuss it. How did the Angels score? Well, they got a runner (Howie Kendrick) on base off Alfredo Aceves, and that was followed up by Jeff Mathis' double, which scored him.
So Aceves was, in every facet of the word, the loser. The question, however, is why he was in the game to begin with anyway?
Aceves came in relief of Dave Robertson, who had pitched to all of two batters, and put them away. Robertson has been excellent all postseason long, and it would stand to reason that he'd stay in the game.
But Joe Girardi took him out for some reason. He replaced the righty with another righty, and that latter pitcher (Aceves) proceeded to lose the game.
So we've come down to this: the Yankees lost because Aceves gave up the winning run, and the question is, what was he doing in there in the first place?
Well, Girardi knew that Robertson relies on his fastball, and that Kendrick is a good fastball hitter. So he replaced him with the more versatile Aceves.
Had the move paid off, it would have looked like a brilliant bit of micro-managing on Girardi's part. What a great use of little-used stats! But it didn't. The move backfired and he lost.
And here's why I am angry: there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to do that much micro-managing. I understand Kendrick is a good fastball hitter, but there are so many other arbitrary stats you can look at. It's just one that Girardi cherry-picked.
Let's assume it had worked out. Most of us would still question the decision. The game was the second straight extra-innings affair between the teams, and taking a pitcher out so quickly would be unwise (and let's not forget he'd already made a curious bullpen decision by yanking lefty Damaso Marte after one batter to replace him with fellow lefty Phil Coke). Burning through pitchers like this is a very bad idea, especially after the game they'd just played a couple of days earlier.
In the end, Kendrick got on base, and scored moments later. Girardi's weird plan had failed.
This is why the Yankees lost.
Yes, there were missed opportunities. And yes, they would have won if Gardner wasn't caught stealing. But let me reiterate: the Yankees didn't lose the game because of those missed chances. They just failed to win it.
The Yankees lost because Girardi got too brainy with his managing, and put the wrong pitcher in at the wrong time. That directly led to the game-winning run for the Angels.
It's not like Girardi had managed a perfect game and was subject to one brain-fart. (Remember Marty Brodeur against the Carolina Hurricanes last spring? He had a great series, but allowed one soft goal at the very end to give the Canes the series. This was not like that.) Giradi's bullpen managing was extremely flawed, and his overuse of pitchers was quite problematic.
Had the game progressed, the Yanks' bullpen would have been paper-thin. Phil Hughes, Chamberlain, Marte, Coke, Mo Rivera, Robertson, and now Aceves had all been used. The game could have gone on further, and Girardi would have been left with just Chad Gaudin in the pen.
Newsflash! The Yanks play again today, and CC Sabathia is pitching on three days rest. A fresh bullpen would be rather useful, wouldn't it?
Girardi needs to stop micro-managing like this. It has led to one Yankee loss already, and it could severely hamper the team the rest of the way. Manage intelligently, but don't get too bogged down in stats. There are too many of them to worry about in-game. Go with what makes sense, and don't worry about how a player hits on a 2-0 count with a runner on first in the seventh inning and beyond when the temperature is above 58 degrees on the 20th day of each month.
That's not to take away from the other Yankee mistakes, but this is one that needs to be highlighted, especially in the wake of last night's loss.