Continuing their season of unpredictable, up-and-down play… the New York Yankees won a crazy ballgame in Cleveland against the red hot Indians. The Yankees were able to overcome a lot of adversity and prevailed 7-6 in 11 innings as they moved within one game of .500 with one game left before a much needed All-Star Break. This game had everything: a bunch of lead changes, clutch hitting, dazzling plays in the field, some luck factored in and – Joe Girardi managing one of the best games of his career! It’s well documented how I am not a fan of Joe’s managerial style, but today he was fantastic. He managed with his gut and basically threw the binder in the trash.
There were three huge moves that Girardi made during the game that propelled the Yankees to victory, and three moves that are so not typical Joe. The first terrific move came in the sixth inning with the Yankees down 5-3 and runners on first and second with Aaron Hicks due up. Hicks has been a huge disappointment this season, but for some reason Girardi keeps running him out there. Today, with Mark Teixeira nursing a sore knee, it was understandable that Hicks was in the lineup. However, in such a big spot in the game there was no way he should be hitting. Enter: Alex Rodriguez. Girardi sent up ARod in place of the ever struggling Hicks and Alex earned a tough walk to load the bases for Brett Gardner. Gardy would deliver with a bases-clearing triple to put the Yankees up one. Way to go, Joe!
After Dellin Betances surrendered an unlikely run in the seventh – something that is not remotely Girardi’s fault – the score would remain knotted at six as the bullpens battled. Girardi called on Andrew Miller for the eighth AND the ninth which was another move I wholeheartedly agreed with. Then with two outs in the ninth and two on, Girardi went to the pen again and brought on his closer Aroldis Chapman. Miller was at 35 pitches and you don’t want to burn him out so pulling him was absolutely the right decision. Going to Chapman in this situation is not a by-the-book move as you usually hold back your closer for a save situation on the road. Girardi was burned by that when he didn’t use Miller to start an inning earlier in the season in Baltimore and the Yankees ended up losing that game. This time Chapman came in and blew away Juan Uribe.
The 10th went by rather uneventfully, but then the 11th inning came and this is where Joe Girardi deserves endless praise. With two outs and nobody on, Carlos Beltran singled to right to give the Yanks a base runner. Surprisingly, Girardi pinch-ran for Beltran with utility infielder Ronald Torreyes. I immediately loved the move because Joe was going for the win here. He knew his bullpen wouldn’t last much longer with Chapman near the end of his rope and the unreliable relievers up next in the pecking order. It was now-or-never and Joe picked now. On the next pitch, Brian McCann ripped a go-ahead RBI double to right scoring Torreyes – and presumably a hit Beltran wouldn’t have scored on with his bad hamstring. Girardi absolutely went for it and it’s something I wish he would do more. Use your gut!!!!
Oh, but Joe wasn’t done. After throwing an inning and a third, many people figured Chapman was done and Chasen Shreve would ent-not so fast. Girardi once again went for it and brought Chapman back out for another inning. He was only at 19 pitches and has four days off after tomorrow. HELL YES GO FOR IT. It’s not burning out your bullpen when you need to pitch your best relievers. Girardi nailed it by leaving Chapman in for the 11th and the Cuban Missile rewarded the move by closing out the victory.
It’s not often I get to praise Joe Girardi, but this needed to be said. He was BRILLIANT today and the Yankees wouldn’t have won without him. I just wish Joe would manage like that more often. Throw away the binder and just use your gut.