Saturday, April 8, 2017

Columbus Clippard and Girardi's Dumpster Fire Bullpen Management

Well, the Yankee bullpen's perfect record couldn't last a full 162 games, could it?

But did it have to end as a dumpster fire?

Luis Severino made his 1st start of the season, in the opener of a 3-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Going into the bottom of the 5th inning, the Yankees had staked (or should that be "stoke"?) him to a 5-1 lead. Matt Holliday singled home a run in the 1st inning, and home runs were crushed by Holliday in the 3rd and Gary Sanchez in the 5th. (For each, it was his 1st of the season.)

But Sevy fell apart in the bottom of the 5th, allowing a 3-run homer to Manny Machado, to make it 5-4 Yanks.

Jonathan Holder and Tommy Layne combined to pitch a perfect 6th. Memo to Joe Girardi: It does not take 2 men to get 3 outs. If the 1st reliever with whom you start an inning gets 2 outs without allowing a baserunner, you don't take him out. Relieving Severino after the 5th inning was understandable; relieving Holder after he'd faced 2 batters and gotten them both out was just plain stupid. Or, as any Yankee Fan knows, "typical of Girardi."

Naturally, Girardi burned another pitcher to start the 7th: Tyler Clippard. Here are Clippard's career stats for every team in the major leagues except the Yankees: 41-31, 2.84 ERA, 1.208 WHIP. Very good. And here are his career stats for the Yankees, counting last night: 5-5, 4.47 ERA, 1.417 WHIP.

Maybe we should call him "Columbus Clippard," because he gives the Yankees performances worthy of being sent back down to AAA ball, even though the Columbus Clippers haven't been the Yankees' AAA farm team since 2006.

The leadoff hitter was Jonathan Schoop, and Clippard got him to hit what looked like a harmless little grounder to 3rd base. But Chase Headley, one of the few Yankees to hit well in the opening series at Tampa Bay, had a mare, as they say in English soccer. (I'm presuming that's short for "nightmare," not "mare" as in "adult female horse," a variant of, "Don't have a cow.") Headley went 0-for-4, and capped it with a throwing error that allowed Schoop to go to 2nd.

Maybe Betty Everett was right that it's not in his arm, Schoop, Schoop.

J.J. Hardy bunted Schoop over to 3rd, so the tying run could score without a hit. But that didn't matter, because Clippard, who clearly works at an Italian restaurant in the off-season, served a nice juicy meatball up to Seth Smith, who hit a home run to make it Orioles 6, Yankees 5.

That would be the final score, thanks to the 1st 2 runs the Yankee bullpen allowed, after 33 1/3rd scoreless innings. WP: Donnie Hart (1-0). SV: Zach Britton (2). LP: Clippard (0-1).

The Yankees fall to 1-3, with the 1st game this season that Girardi's bullpen blundering has lost.

The worst part of Girardi still being the Yankee manager is that Don Rickles is no longer alive to call him, "You hockey puck!"

The series continues this afternoon, a 4:05 PM start. Masahiro Tanaka, who really needs to rebound from his Opening Day start, the worst start of his North American career so far, starts against Kevin Gausman, who usually pitches well against the Yankees.

If Tanaka doesn't go at least 7 innings, and Girardi has to play musical chairs with the bullpen again, this could be a football score.

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