Mancuso: What Matters Now For Yankees Is Sunday Night

Place the blame on Joe Girardi for not challenging an apparent hit by pitch call in the sixth inning. Or blame the Yankees manager for pulling CC Sabathia after throwing 77 pitches, retiring 10 straight Cleveland Indians at one point and proving again he is the stopper.

But it all came down to Girardi trusting his bullpen again. His plan, as it was in the Wild Card win Tuesday night against the Twins, go to Green, Robertson, Kahnle, Chapman, and Betances if he had to.

It worked Tuesday night  in the Bronx for Girardi and the Yankees. It did not Friday night in Game 2 of the ALDS against these Cleveland Indians and now the Yankees come home to the Bronx facing another elimination game Sunday night.

This is asking too much, overcoming an 0-2 deficit in this best of five, but these are the Yankees who had the best home record in the American League.  And they will have Masahiro Tanaka on the mound with that task of extending this Yankees season of the more than expected.

However, it should not have got to this point. So blame Girardi for bad decision making and right now Yankees fans are not about to invite their manager to the dinner table. And it should not have mattered, regardless of that decision not to call for a replay that would have went the Yankees way from all the camera angles they use.

This should not have come down to a replay or not, or Sabathia being pulled.

It’s simple to analyze. When you have a 8-3 lead over these Indians and knock out Corey Kluber, the American League Cy Young Award candidate after 2.2 innings, that should have led to the Yankees coming home Sunday night with the split they needed in Cleveland.  

Instead, we are discussing the strategy and how Joe Girardi is the culprit for this Yankees loss. And you will read and hear many theories the next 24-hours, but the only one who knows the strategy is the Yankees manager who was hired to be trusted ten years ago.

It’s a hit or a miss and a part of postseason baseball and decisions. Kluber did not have his best stuff, and regardless of what Girardi did or did not do, you would trust those decisions going to the bullpen that put the Yankees in the position of playing baseball in October.

Girardi explained it was set up for Chad Green.

“It was set up for Green to come in, and I decided to go,” said Girardi. “Usually we give CC somewhere around 90 pitches. I think he was around 80, and it was set up for our bullpen. I went there, and it didn’t work.”

And this decision did not have that similar outcome that worked against the Twins which is causing an eruption for Yankees fans. Yes it didn’t work, again the decisions made managing a postseason baseball game and realizing you need that split of two games coming out of Cleveland.

Wasn’t too long ago when Terry Collins was in that Mets dugout at Citi Field and had to make a postseason decision. This week the disposed manager reflected on that decision to keep Matt Harvey in a World Series game his team had against the Royals. That decision backfired and so did a possible Mets World Series title.

And that decision by Joe Girardi to not challenge the Lonnie Chisenhall at bat was another move that later changed the complexion of this game.

“And probably being a catcher, my thought is I never want to break a pitcher’s rhythm,” Girardi said. “That’s how i think about it. So, if it’s not something, there was nothing that said he was not hit.”

He added, “There was nothing that told us he was not hit on the pitch. By the time we got the super slow mo, we are beyond a minute. It was way too late. They tell us we have the 30 seconds. They will take longer in replay.”  Maybe longer in the days when replay did not exist and a  baseball argument was a part of the game.

Yankees fans did not want to hear that contention from their manager. They wanted the challenge and go to the replay as much as they were throwing things at the TV screen when Sabathia was gone from the mound. Had it all worked out, Joe Girardi is their man of the night and the Yankees may have that split.

But those decisions are what make the baseball postseason what it is. It’s October baseball and the drama. And none of this would have mattered had the Yankees secured a lead they built against Corey Kluber.

So go and blame Joe Girardi if you want. What really matters here is the Cleveland Indians are dominant and one game away from their second consecutive ALCS. The Yankees are heading home and face that improbable task.

If  they can’t make this a series, well there is next year. With their future there will be many more October postseasons with drama and the team to beat with or without some  managerial decisions that work with or against them.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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