The New York Yankees have been going with a three-man rotation for the entire postseason even with a fourth starter, Chad Gaudin, looming in the bullpen.
Gaudin was a midseason acquisition for the Yankees to fill a spot in the bullpen, to be a possible spot starter for the struggling Joba Chamberlain, and to fill the spot left by Phil Hughes, who has settled nicely into a setup role for Mariano Rivera.
Fox had a nice stat to throw out to the viewers of the series last night, (one of the few good ones they had) about A.J. Burnett's career record on three days rest. It was good, but Burnett hadn't showed that he could be consistent in the playoffs.
Joe Girardi decided to roll the dice anyway and go with Burnett on three days rest, going all in to win the Series in five. Charlie Manuel called his bluff and it turns out, he won!
The Yankees put up one run in the top of the first and looked good early. Then the bottom of the first came up and Burnett borrowed Brad Lidge's gas can and matches and made his way to the mound. After six runs in the first three innings, Burnett got pulled.
Now, the reason Burnett was starting, was he was the best available. He was the best available, but he should have been the best available for game six in New York and here's the simple reason why: the designated hitter.
With no DH in the National League, the Yankees were already down to Hideki Matsui, who has hit very well this season and another brilliant move by Girardi put Jose Molina in at catcher. A good catcher, but an extremely poor hitter, taking Jorge Posada's bat out of the lineup.
Add the injury to Melky Cabrera, which puts a cold and inexperienced Brett Gardner into the lineup, and the batting order now looks like this: Derek Jeter,Johnny Damon,Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez,Nick Swisher,Robinson Cano,Gardner,Molina,and Burnett.
After A-Rod, the lineup becomes a frightening run of no hits, bad swings, inexperience, inept hitting, and a pitcher.
Gaudin should have started and it would have looked like this: Jeter,Damon,Tex,A-Rod, Posada,Swisher,Cano,Gardner and Gaudin; a much more impressive lineup and added protection for A-Rod in the lineup.
But you can never count out the Yankees, who have had multiple come from behind wins not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs as well. That came into effect last night as the Yankees started to get the bats hot and got some runs across the plate. But the bullpen came in and poured gas on the fire that Burnett started, which is where Girardi made his mistake.
Mistake No. 1: Not starting Chad Gaudin and giving Burnett his full rest to pitch game six and have Andy Pettitte on full rest or CC Sabathia.
Mistake No. 2: This was the biggest one; if you're not going to start Gaudin, why not bring him out of the bullpen and get four or five innings out of him and save the bullpen which has been spotty leading up until Mariano Rivera.
Instead, Girardi ran the gamut of David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Hughes and Phil Choke, I mean Coke. Coke gave up two home runs and gave the Phillies the eight runs they needed to win. He came in when they had six, which ended up being what the Yankees scored.
If Girardi had gone to Gaudin after Burnett was pulled, it might have been a different story. Gaudin may have been able to get to the sixth inning and then Girardi could have gone to Robertson for the sixth, Hughes in the eighth, and possibly at that point could have gone to Rivera in the ninth with the score tied or even possibly the lead.
Alas, now the Yankees are going back to New York with Posada back in the lineup and Pettitte, the league's winningest pitcher in the postseason, on the mound. They get the DH spot back as well, so the lineup looks a little better.