The New York Yankees are in a fight for a division title, but if they continue to make the wrong decisions, the Toronto Blue Jays will fly right past them.
Friday night’s loss 2-1 loss was a result of failure at the plate in key spots and manager Joe Girardi once again trying to be too smart.
With the game tied at 1 in the top of the ninth inning, All Star closer Andrew Miller retired the Blue Jays on just six pitches, but instead of sending him out for the 10th inning, Girardi brought in Branden Pinder, a 26-year-old right-hander who threw twice as many innings in the minors (31.2) than with the Yankees (15.2) this season.
"You look at the success that part of the order has had against left-handers, I felt I had to go to the right-hander there," Girardi told the assembled NY media.
This is exactly the problem with Girardi at times. He lets the numbers in his precious binder dictate what should be a simple decision. Miller had thrown just six pitches, and he’s an All Star for a reason.
If you don’t trust him to get through the meat of the order in this situation, then how can you trust him for high leverage innings in October?
Miller is the best reliever in New York’s excellent bullpen for a reason. Pinder has had a nice season, but he had no business facing Jose Bautista in the top of the 10th inning. The result was predictable – a home run clear over the left field fence.
Girardi’s logic makes some sense that Dellin Betances had just thrown for the third time in four days, and he didn’t want to burn out his bullpen on Friday night.
The problem with this strategy is Toronto has David Price going this afternoon, so the Yankee bullpen might not even have a chance to close out a victory.
But, it’s not like Price has dominated the Yankees throughout his career. The power lefty has a career 4.41 ERA with a 10-7 record against New York. In his lone outing this year against the Yankees -- when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers -- Price allowed eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, back in April at Comerica Park.
Nobody knows if the Yankees would have won the game, and maybe Miller doesn’t do any better than Pinder, but what is the point of having a lock down closer if you don’t use him in that situation?
New York blew a game that saw Nathan Eovaldi give an excellent performance, allowing just one run over 6 1/3 innings.
Unfortunately, the Yankees’ bats were non-existent outside of a Mark Teixeira solo home run in the second inning, thanks to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
A Yankee win would have increased their lead to 5 ½ games, but now it’s just 3 ½ with Price on the mound against Ivan Nova. Toronto has been on fire since trading for Troy Tulowitzki and Price at the deadline, and Girardi gifted them a highly important game. There is simply no excuse.