feature photo: NY Daily News
by : Rich Bauer
The Yankees excruciating extra-inning loss to the Indians in Cleveland Friday was everything that baseball should be in October. Excitement, drama and filled with plenty of pressure and second guessing.
Skipper Joe Girardi is in the crossfire of angered Yankee fans today. He was clearly wrong not to trust his catcher Gary Sanchez and challenge the HBP call on Lonnie Chisenhall. Simply put, Chisenhall’s reaction was not one of a person who was just hit by a fastball.
Girardi still had his two allotted challenges left and a 75% success rate when he uses them. If that challenge was made and it held up that would have been the end of the inning, no Francisco Lindor’s grand slam and very likely a Yankee win.
Also, let’s not overlook Girardi taking the ball from CC Sabathia in the 5th inning. CC was in a groove retiring twelve of the last thirteen batters and his pitch count was only 77 pitches. His replacements Chad Green and David Robertson (career high 52 pitches on Tues.) who both pitched brilliantly earlier in the week struggled, giving up two huge home runs.
Enough heat for the Yankee manager, let’s look at the Bomber positives. Nobody was predicting that they would chase Corey Kluber after 2.2 innings after giving up 7 hits, 6 runs and 2 Dingers courtesy of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks. The six runs allowed tied his season high.
How about Greg Bird, Jeff Frazier and Hicks ( 7 hits, 5 RBI. 2HR.) picking up Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius (13 AB, 0 Hits, 4 BB)?
What was Ronald Torreyes thinking getting picked off second with no outs in a sacrifice bunt situation in the 11th inning? Just a stupid, unacceptable play. For me that was the tell-tale sign that the Yanks were coming out on the short end of this game.
The Yankees have their backs to the wall and they will be banking on Masahiro Tanaka in Sunday evening (7:30 pm.) game 3 in the Bronx. My confidence in Tanaka is questionable simply because he has been so erratic all season. However, his last start was a gem holding the Blue Jays scoreless and striking out 15. Tanaka goes into the game with a 4.63 ERA against the Indians.
If Tanaka gets roughed up be prepared for the Girardi haters to jump up and ask why, when facing elimination, he did not change the rotation and throw Luis Severino who lasted less than one inning four days earlier.
I am concerned on how many times you can go to the bullpen. They have depth but they have been taxed and exposed plenty this week. Robertson has thrown five innings and Dellin Betances four. And the message sent by the Indians who were trailing 8-3 is that no lead is safe, they have the ability to come back.
Coming home to the Bronx is a good but it would have been nice nice having the guarantee of playing two games.
As bad as it was, Yankee fans need to put Friday night’s game behind them because this can still be a series. And oh yes it would be a good thing if Girardi’s players picked him up after a very rough night. Take care of home field and then you never know.