Joe Girardi Did Very Little to Help Overmatched New York Yankees in ALCS
In the end, the Rangers were simply better than the Yankees in every facet of the game.
During the six games of the American League Championship Series, Texas outscored New York, 38-19, outhit the Bombers, .304 to .201, and outpitched them, 3.06 to 6.58 in the ERA category.
The Yanks were also outmanaged.
New York was the highest-scoring team in baseball this year and had the third-most home runs, but Joe Girardi's resistance to using small ball sent the Bombers into offensive droughts when the homers stopped coming.
The Yankees ranked just eighth in the American League in steals and sac flies and 11th in sacrifice hits.
The downfall of station-to-station baseball was never more evident than in the ALCS, when the Rangers stole nine bases and laid down three sacrifice bunts, while the Yanks stole only two bags and had just one sac bunt.
But Girardi's biggest blunder came when he pulled Phil Hughes during the fifth inning of Game 6. The right-hander had just surrendered a two-run double to Vladimir Guerrero, but he was still pitching well.
At the time he was taken out, Hughes had allowed three runs on four hits and two unintentional walks with three strikeouts over 4.2 frames.
He had thrown only 83 pitches and retired 12 of the previous 18 batters he had faced, with two of those six men reaching via intentional walks.
This was a complete panic move by Girardi, who bought into the myth that you have to immediately pull your starter at the first sign of trouble in an elimination game.
So with the season on the line and 16 outs for the bullpen to get, did the manager go to Mariano Rivera (who he had been saving all series allegedly for this very spot) or Kerry Wood or even CC Sabathia? No, he went to David Robertson, who yielded five runs in one-third of an inning in Game 3.
Girardi brought the right-hander in to face Nelson Cruz, who smacked a two-run single off Robertson in Game 3, and the outfielder quickly put Game 6 on ice with a 425-foot two-run blast.
What's even more confounding is that the skipper brought in Wood to pitch the sixth. If Wood is allowed to pitch as early as the sixth and he's been better than Robertson over the prior two months, why not bring in Wood in the fifth?
Because that's not allowed.
Managers must follow a strict regimen that dictates that you have to bring in your middle reliever first, then your setup man, and then your closer, even if your season is on the line in the fifth inning, not the ninth.
This is why, despite Girardi's bonehead decision, I'm not calling for his head. Because, after all, who would replace him?
Joe Torre made the same mistakes, so I was excited when Girardi, a small ball manager with the Marlins, came over to replace him. But the new Joe fell into the same patterns as the old one.
There are only a few managers in baseball these days that have the guts to think outside the box, and since Joe Maddon, Mike Scioscia and Ozzie Guillen are all currently employed, the Yankees can't really do anything but bring Girardi back. After all, he did help lead the team to a World Series title last year.
You just have to hope he learns from his mistakes.
Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison. Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and authorhouse.com. Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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