Scout’s Eye: It Was The Bullpen That Lost The Game For The Yankees

Tonight, the Yankees took advantage of an out of sync Cory Kluber and chased him in the third inning. They hammered out 7 hits, with 2 home runs and 6 runs, giving the bombers a fat 8 to 3 lead into the sixth inning.

In the mean time, CC Sabathia was showing everyone how to pitch in the post season and although he seems to hit his wall in the sixth inning this year, he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed. After retiring eleven in a row, he was removed in the sixth inning with one on and one out. He left with that five run lead and with Chad Green coming in, it looked like the Yankees would be tied at one game apiece in this ALDS with a chance to upset the favorite Indians.

Going back to Yankee Stadium where they have a record of 51 and 30 the thought of getting two wins at home to wrap up this series was clearly in sight.

But then the whole game turned into an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” We saw a ball stopped by a photographer in their well that was ruled a dead ball. Putting Austin Jackson on second as the potential winning run in the tenth inning. Joe Girardi challenged the call. It was was reviewed and was upheld. We saw Ronald Torreyes get picked off of second base on a throw from catcher Yan Gomes where  Girardi challenged the call, only to again have it upheld after a review.

But the one close call that Girardi never reviewed was in the pivotal sixth inning. With two outs and runners on second and third, pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was ruled to have been hit by the pitch. It was close and appeared to have maybe hit the bottom of the bat and then caught by Gary Sanchez for what would have been the third out. Girardi never challenged it. The next batter Francisco Lindor then deposited an 88 mph slider from Green off of the foul pole in right for a grand slam, bringing the Tribe to within one run. Girardi when asked why he didn’t’ challenge the hit by pitch responded by telling reporters: “There was nothing that told us that he was not hit on the pitch. By the time we got the super slow mo, we were a minute, probably beyond a minute, way too late. They tell us we have the 30 seconds. And probably being a (former) catcher, I never want to break a pitcher’s rhythm. That’s how I think about it. There was nothing that said he was not hit.”

Nothing that said he was not hit? Not break the pitchers rhythm? What? I haven’t heard mumbo jumbo double talk like that since I lost twenty dollars playing three card monty on 47th street in 1976. In todays game, where it seems like the managers challenge everything that is close and goes against them, Why wouldn’t you at least ask for a review. It is the most important game of the year for your team and you let it go? Maybe he felt secure with a five run lead, two outs and a guy who has been lights out on the mound all year. Who could have imagined that they would blow that lead and loose in the 13th inning? Speaking of the thirteenth inning, why not walk Gomes with no one out and Jackson on second. Maybe they can get a double play and give Dellin Betances  a chance to get out of the inning. They were stretching the big guy beyond his limit as he was into his third inning of relief. Wow, think about that. Three innings and he is way beyond his limit. This guy can probably lift and carry a small car ten miles, but he can’t throw a 5 ounce baseball more than 34 times with rest between innings.

Was the game lost because of a managers choice not to challenge a call? It would be easy to put the blame on Girardi here, but in all fairness, he didn’t throw the home run pitch to Lindor or the winning hit by Gomes in the thirteenth. He is only as good as his players on any given day. On a day when the Yankee hitters more than did their jobs, it was the usually dependable bullpen who lost the game.

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