The Yankees dropped Game Two of the ALDS to the Indians last night, setting them back two games to none on the series. That’s after shellacking Corey Kluber, too. At one point, the Bombers had an 8 - 3 lead. A cornucopia of mistakes followed, transforming this outing into one of the worst games I’ve ever seen. A number of inane miscues resulted in a crushing loss. There were so many of them that it’s worth ranking the blunders.
5. Pulling CC Sabathia in the sixth inning
Sabathia allowed two runs over 5.1 innings last night. That line doesn’t paint a complete picture though. Those runs came in the first inning. The big left-hander settled down after that. He went on a run that saw him retire 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.
Joe Girardi pulled him in favor of Chad Green in the sixth inning. That proved baffling because Sabathia was on cruise control. He had a runner on, but showed no signs of slowing down. At 77 pitches, he wasn’t overexerting himself. This seemed more about getting Green into the game than removing Sabathia.
That, of course, backfired as Green looked noticeably fatigued. The young right-hander allowed three earned runs on two hits while only recording one out. The action came on a Francisco Lindor grand slam.
Given what preceded it, this felt entirely predictable. We’ll get to that later, though. This won’t be the only entry from the sixth inning on the list.
4. Leaving David Robertson in the extra inning
After Green imploded, Girardi called on Robertson to put out the fire. For a little while, it looked like this strategy would pay off. Robertson appeared razor sharp. Then the eighth inning happened. Robertson wasn’t fooling anyone. Most notably, Jay Bruce took him deep for a game-tying solo home run. Even his outs were loud though.
There’s no reason for Robertson to have come back out for the eighth. Not after tossing a career high 52 pitches in the Wild Card Game. Fatigue crept in and it ultimately paved the way for the extra innings affair. Would a fresh reliever have kept the Cleveland bats at bay? We may never know. The fact that an exhausted Robertson pitched multiple innings, however, ranks as an annoying mistake.
3. Leaving Dellin Betances in the extra inning
Bullpen mismanagement proved the theme of the night, apparently. Betances came on in the 11th and you know what? He was filthy. His fastball - curveball combination looked unhittable. It was vintage Betances for two innings.
Like Robertson, however, Girardi went to the well one too many times with Betances. By the 13th inning he lost his control. Pitches flew all over the place. Then he surrendered the walk-off hit to Yan Gomes. This really is an extension of point number four, but since it actually resulted in the game ending, I’m going to rank it as a worse moment.
2. Ronald Torreyes getting picked off second base
In any other game, this would rank as the biggest mistake. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it gets runner up instead. In the top of the 11th inning, the Yankees looked to scratch out a run to reclaim the lead. It looked like they had a chance, too, as Todd Frazier reached second base with no outs on a throwing error. Girardi decided to use Torreyes as a pinch runner, which, in theory, makes sense.
The move, as you guessed it, backfired when Torreyes strayed too far from the bag. Words fail to grasp how dumb this mistake was, so I’m going to let the video explain.
Having a runner at second with no outs against Cody Allen is a gift. The Yankees threw it away though. They lost their best chance at coming back because Torreyes couldn’t keep his lead in check. Gross.
1. Not challenging the hit by a pitch
In a game full of blunders, this one stands out as the worst. During the calamitous sixth inning, Green hit Lonnie Chisenhall with a pitch. Chisenhall took first to load the bases. The only problem here is that Green never actually hit him. The ball grazed the knob of the bat, not Chisenhall’s hand.
Lonnie Chisenhall foul tip that should have been called strike three. No challenge by Girardi, horrible call pic.twitter.com/H6025WqtVo— Ideal Mkai (@Mkai__) October 7, 2017
Chisenhall knew it because he didn’t flinch; he never feigned pain. Gary Sanchez knew it by the sound. He repeatedly asked Girardi to challenge the play, but the Yankees manager stayed put. Girardi claimed that the footage didn’t come in on time and he didn’t want to interrupt his pither’s rhythm. That sounds more like he was protecting the video replay coordinator, but we’ll never know that for sure.
One thing is obvious, though. That might have been the most egregious mistake of Girardi’s managing career. I’m not resorting to hyperbole, either. It was that bad. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to call it negligent. A major league manager has to challenge that. It’s inexcusable that he didn’t.
I have been a longstanding Girardi apologist. I consider him a fine manager. That said, last night he lived up to the tropes. He put too much weight into the video and analytics while ignoring his players. The team’s star catcher, a franchise cornerstone, begged for a review. Sanchez’s plea fell on deaf ears.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for Girardi. After all, he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. For now though, his managing reminds me of a certain C. Montgomery Burns.
At least the power plant’s team won that series. Maybe the Yankees can run into the same luck. They’re going to need to cool it with the boneheaded mistakes to even get the chance to come back, though.