Sunday, July 2, 2017
Why, Joe, Why?
Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam in the 6th inning, his 10th home run of the season. In the 7th, Clint Frazier, one of the "prospects" for whom Brian Cashman threw last season away, making his major league debut and already having gotten his 1st major league hit, hit his 1st major league home run.
Years from now, they may say, "Ol' Number 30 could really hit. We knew it back in '17."
Or they could say, "He fooled us, like Hensley Meulens, and Steve Balboni, and Dan Pasqua, and Kevin Maas, and Gerald Williams, and Jesus Montero."
(I didn't include Shane Spencer, because he actually helped us win a World Series. Three, in fact.)
So the Yankees led 5-2 going to the bottom of the 6th, and 6-3 going to the bottom of the 8th. That means they won the ballgame, right? Wrong. Because Joe Girardi is an idiot who does not know how to manage a pitching staff.
Jordan Montgomery pitched into the 6th inning, and was doing well. He got the 1st out. Then he allowed a home run and a double. Unlike Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy science-fiction book series, Girardi must be the only guy with a book that says, "Yes, panic!" He looked in his damn binder, and it said, "Replace starting pitcher."
And it wasn't due to the damn pitch count: Montgomery had only thrown 87 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. He should have been good for at least 7 innings.
So Girardi brought on Chad Green. Green pitched well, finishing the 6th and getting through the 7th, with just 1 baserunner. Gee, if he was that effective, maybe Girardi should have left him in.
But because Joe Girardi is an idiot who does not know how to manage a pitching staff, he didn't leave Green in. He brought Dellin Betances in to pitch the 8th, when Green -- hell, maybe even Montgomery -- should still have been in.
Even if you buy the narrative from last season, Betances is supposed to be the 7th inning pitcher, Andrew Miller the 8th, and Aroldis Chapman the 9th. But because Cashman traded Miller for "prospects," including Frazier, Miller wasn't there for the 8th, and Betances illustrates "The Peter Principle": He rises to the level of his incompetence.
Betances got the 1st out in the 8th. Here's what happened thereafter: Walk, stolen base, stolen base, groundout getting that runner home (6-4 Yankees), home run (6-5 Yankees), walk, error, stolen base, walk.
Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you.
This time, we could have used Girardi panicking and pulling a pitcher after 2 mistakes. But he didn't. He waited until it was too late to bring Chapman in for the 8th inning. And Chapman allowed a double that brought home the tying and, as it turned out, winning runs.
Naturally, the Yankees didn't score in the top of the 9th. Aaron Judge popped up to 1st base. He was pinch-hitting for Chris Carter. Begging the question, What the hell was Carter doing in the game, and Judge not, at the start? The much-hyped Frazier -- you'd think he'd already done as much as Judge, with all the hype he's gotten -- also popped to 1st. And Brett Gardner singled to left -- and was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. I admire his enthusiasm, if not his judgment.
Final score: Astros 7, Yankees 6. WP: Dayan Diaz (1-1). SV: Ken Giles (19). LP: Betances (3-3). But, again, the loss should be charged to Girardi -- this time, for his lineup and his pitching screwups.
In the immortal words of Nancy Kerrigan, "Why? Why? Why?"
The series concludes this afternoon. Luis Severino starts against Mike Fiers. Chris Carter is in the lineup again. And Girardi is still the manager. And it's away to the Astros.
I'm assuming this game is lost, unless and until it's won.
Probably a safe default position for every game Girardi manages for the rest of his life.