I've spent the last few nights lying awake trying to determine what's easier to understand: what goes through Girardi's head when faced with bullpen decisions, or how the Twins couldn't pull out a win during all of this strategic hysteria. And trying to pick one is like trying to choose between a Hamptons timeshare with either the cast of NYC Prep or The Apprentice.
Alfredo Aceves was no where near the stifling ace he's been in the long-relief role, and was pulled in the 3rd after he reached the 65-pitch watermark. Those illustrious innings were laced with 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 unearned, 2 walks, 1 ding, and a hit batter, for good measure. The ball was flying out of his hands like he had eaten a gallon of movie popcorn before he took the mound, and it was anyone's guess where the ball would end up. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was taking his cue from A.J. Burnett's outing.
Francisco Liriano, not to be outdone, walked the bases loaded then walked in a run, opening up the poor man's rally for the Yanks in the 2nd. The Yanks tagged him for 6 runs on 7 hits. Only half were earned. Seriously.
I don't think it's fair to refer to any of the runs in this game as offense, though they were, indeed, offensive to watch. The Twins' scoring was no more admirable than New York's, as they put up 4 runs by way of Jason Kubel's solo (acceptable), 2 consecutive runs walked in (unacceptable), and a throwing error by Cody "Give me back my 3B" Ransom (&^!*(@).
David Robertson was put in the enviable position of relieving Aceves with the bases loaded in the 4th. Girardi is nothing if not dedicated to seeing exactly how much he can engender the wrath of each and every reliever in his jurisdiction. Robertson walked in Denard Span and Matt Tolbert to score Michael Cuddyer and Brian Buscher, putting the Yanks exactly where they wanted to be. With bases loaded, a paltry 1 run lead, with one of the best hitters in the league at the plate.
Robertson managed to get Joe Mauer to ground out, mercifully, and Mark Teixeira led off the 5th with a solo shot that significantly placated my murderous rage towards Girardi. Robertson's not bad, but he's not the guy I'd put in that situation. I'd probably go to the long reliever who hasn't let up a run since the turn of the century and who pitched for 23 seconds in the night prior.
Instead, Jonathan Albasdjkero [sic] relieved Robertson before handing it over to Coke. To everyone's great surprise, he also allowed 0 hits and struck out 2, before handing the game to Coke, who let up a hit, blanked 1.
But why so severely limit Phil Hughes in last night's game if not for this exact situation? So you have a long reliever available to take over when your other long-reliever is starting? To no one's great surprise, Hughes allowed 0 hits and struck out 2 before handing the game over to Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 23rd save to give the Yanks their 8th straight road game.
Somewhere in Minnesota, the Twins are celebrating. As bad as a 7-game sweep is, at least it means they can wash their hands of the Yankees and waste their talent on another series. Someone in the Minnesota St. Paul airport, Brett Gardner is spearheading an initiative to dump their manager in one of the lakes before heading to LA.
The Yanks are winning because the resolve of the 7-8-9 batters is stronger than Girardi's resolve to avoid at all costs conventional wisdom. The bottom third of the line-up accounted for 4 RBIs, once again delivering the lion's share of the offense to supplement to consistent hitting of the rest of the order.
Tomorrow they face the Angels, with Joba Chamberlain taking the mound. I'm starting to feel just as bad for Vegas odds makers as I do the bullpen. The inexplicable nature of the last 2 games, however, does nothing to dilute the delight of closing in on the Red Sox.
In essence, watching the Yankees play has been like seeing your buddy get 21 at the blackjack table, by asking for a hit on an 18.