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Yankees-Rays: Joe Girardi Lies When Saying Winning the Division Is Important

Jordan Schwartz@jordanharrisonSenior Writer ISeptember 14, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Manager Joe Girardi #28 and bench coach Tony Pena # 56 of the New York Yankees watch their team take on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Before the Yankees' painful 1-0 loss to the Rays in 11 innings on Monday night, Manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com that "the division is important because everyone wants their home fans behind them as long as you can. We had it last year and it worked out very well for us. It's important to us."

He was obviously not telling the truth.

If you really feel that it's important to win the American League East and secure home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs rather than sneak in as the Wild Card and have to play all your Game 1's on the road, then you wouldn't bring in Sergio Mitre to pitch the 11th inning of a scoreless game with first place on the line in mid-September rather than go to Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, or Joba Chamberlain.

Of course, Girardi did hand the ball to Mitre at this critical juncture and the right-hander promptly surrendered a game-winning homer to the first batter he faced, Reid Brignac, a guy who entered the at-bat with just six home runs in 132 career games.

The loss was the Yankees' fourth in a row—the first time they had done that all year—and their seventh in the last eight games, dropping them a half-game back of the Rays.

Before bringing in Mitre, Girardi had already flirted with disaster by having Chad Gaudin (5.37 ERA) get the final two outs in the 10th. The right-hander walked two and gave up a hit, but eventually escaped a bases-loaded jam to delay the agony one more inning.

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But that wasn't the only way Girardi confused fans on Monday. Before the game, he said that Nick Swisher, who is dealing with a bone bruise on his left knee, would "probably not" be used. The right fielder was not in the starting lineup, replaced by Greg Golson, who went 0-for-2 to drop his average to .231, but Swisher later appeared as a pinch-hitter, grounding out on the eighth pitch he saw in the eighth inning.

I can understand if Swisher isn't healthy enough to play the field, but if he's healthy enough to pinch hit, isn't he healthy enough to DH? Wouldn't you want his .288 average and .515 slugging percentage in the game when you've scored just one run in the past 10 innings coming in?

The Yankees have now scored just one run in the last 21 innings and another reason why is because Girardi decided to sit Alex Rodriguez on Sunday against left-hander Cliff Lee, a guy A-Rod is 6-for-22 (.273) with two homers against.

And even when New York does get runners on base, Girardi often does very little to advance them. He did have Curtis Granderson bunt after Austin Kearns led off the 11th with a single, but he failed to put the bunt on when Kearns came to the plate in the eighth after Posada led off by reaching on an error. Kearns then grounded into a double play. I understand Posada is slow, but they could've pinch ran for him. Girardi loves pinch-running for A-Rod late in games, but he sticks with Posada there?

Finishing as the Wild Card might work out for the Yankees in the AL Division Series as it appears they'd get to play the Twins rather than the Rangers, and we know how much success New York has had against Minnesota in the postseason. But the Bombers are 49-25 at home and just 38-32 on the road, so don't tell me that home-field advantage is not important.

And don't lie to me about your desire to get it.

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 jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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