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You Play Manager: Ninth Inning

What do you say you and I hit up the town after the game, Joe? Shouldn't take any longer than three hours to get outta here!
What do you say you and I hit up the town after the game, Joe? Shouldn't take any longer than three hours to get outta here!

Yes, the Yankees won last night. But let's have a little fun this morning, shall we?

There was a boatload of debate that followed the decision made by Yankee manager Joe Girardi entering the bottom of the ninth inning last night. Let's reset the table and completely evaluate the situation.

As we all bore witness to last night, Bartolo Colon continued his unprecedented blast to the past with an absolutely spectacular performance against the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees held a slim 1-0 lead when Colon left the mound after the bottom of the eighth.

Colon's line, up to that point, was eight complete innings, three hits, one walk, seven strikeouts. Perhaps most importantly, Bartolo had thrown merely 87 pitches. It's widely accepted that averaging 15 pitches per inning is highly desirable, as that should take any starting pitcher through seven innings of ball (binder decision pending). His fastball danced more than Jonathan Papelbon and he was hitting 97 miles per hour right before he walked off the mound.

Now, the last pitcher to throw a complete game shutout for the Yankees was CC Sabathia back on May 8. Ironically enough, that game was played against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Oh how we love their home away from home! Needless to say, complete games are rare to come across in Yankeeland.

Joe Girardi was faced with a decision to make. Does he send out the rejuvenated, circa-2005 Bartolo Colon to try and shut the door on the Orioles? Or does he go to the man who nearly closes the door every time without fail, otherwise known as Mariano Rivera?

Girardi opted to go with Rivera, and Mariano surprisingly surrendered the game-tying sacrifice-fly to Vladimir Guerrero.

I've heard the mantra of "hindsight is the best sight", but plenty of people in the game thread last night were not exactly pleased with the decision made. Sure, you can never fault a manager for going to his closer, especially when it's Mariano Rivera. He does his job more efficiently than nearly any other baseball player who has ever lived.

However, why not let Bartolo Colon trot out to, at the very least, start the ninth inning? If he gets into trouble, which he successfully worked his way out of in the seventh and eighth innings, then put Rivera in the game. Might I add that Colon only had to work his way out of trouble mostly due to shoddy defensive play behind him.

Again, this is a decision that, as a manager, you relish to have at your fingertips. Essentially, you're picking amongst a pitcher who is giving you one of his best career starts, and the best closer in baseball, to end the game. It should be a win/win either way.

Of course, now I'm curious. If you were Joe Girardi (binder jokes aside, for the moment), would you have stuck with your red hot starting pitcher? Or would you have gone with the rested man who has 572 saves to his name?