Where Are the Haters Now? Girardi Pushes Right Buttons in Games 4 & 5
Everyone was so quick to blame Joe Girardi for the loss in game 2 in Cleveland because he failed to challenge a hit-by-pitch call on Lonnie Chisenhall when the Yankees led 8-3. Replay showed the Chad Green pitch didn't hit Chisenhall, it ricocheted off his bat and into the mitt of Gary Sanchez for what would have been strike 3 and the end of the inning. Assuming the umps saw what we all saw, the inning would have been over and there would have been no grand slam from Francisco Lindor.
But now that the Yankees have won the ALDS, where are the haters? Joe Girardi didn't put the previous two base runners on before Chisenhall drew the controversial hit-by-pitch, he didn't then throw the pitch for Lindor to crush a ball off the right field foul pole and Girardi certainly didn't give up the game-tying HR to Jay Bruce in the 8th inning. Girardi didn't get picked off 2nd base for the first out of the inning in extras, ruining the Yankees best chance to score after the 9th. My point is, so much had to go wrong for the Yankees to blow that 8-3 lead and that chance to even the series at a game apiece. It took much more than Girardi simply not challenging the call.
Bartman became the scapegoat in the 2003 NLCS when he interfered with a fly ball down the left field line which Moises Alou might have had the chance to catch. That was in the top of the 8th inning with Bartman's Cubs leading 3-0. What followed was a comedy of errors by the then "lovable losers." One of the surest handed shortstops in all of baseball, Alex Gonzalez, booted a double play ball. Mark Prior and two relievers the rest of that 8th inning allowed 8 runs...8! Up until last year's World Series title, Cubs fans wrongly held onto the blame of Bartman because it's easy. Lazy, really. Oh by the way, the Cubs also blew a lead in game 7 to lose the series to the Marlins.
Is Girardi's mistake in game 2 of the ALDS against the Indians, which he owned up to, now forgotten because the Yankees won that series or will irrational New York fans not let anyone forget about that non-challenge because they simply want a different manager in 2018?
If so, all of those fans will deny the great decisions by Girardi in games 4 and 5. First of all, Girardi chose the right spot for Luis Severino to make his second career postseason start. Girardi didn't rush his ace back to the mound after a historic blowout in the wild card against the Twins. Instead, he made Severino stew over that disaster, driving his desire to be better, prove doubters wrong. Second, Girardi went to Tommy Kahnle to bail out Dellin Betances and stuck with the Shaker grad to finish off Severino's strong start.
How about game 5? CC Sabathia was excellent and yet when it appeared he might be at the end of his rope while leading 3-2, Girardi popped out of the dugout and had the right guy ready. David Robertson came on with 1 out and 2 men on in the 5th inning. All Robertson did was induce an inning ending double play and the Indians didn't score a single run the rest of the night.
Girardi won't get credit from the haters. They'll continue to call for his exit from New York, but the same way I likened the game 2 situation to Bartman, I'll liken Girardi's tenure to Les Miles' at LSU. Tigers fans couldn't get rid of Miles quickly enough. How's that working out for them?