Did you think my version of The Joe Girardi Show got canceled for no reason like How to Make It in America? I know there hasn’t been an episode of the show since April 9 following the Tragedy at the Trop to open the season, but that’s because Girardi’s questionable decision making has been spread out. It’s been a while since Girardi has made several decisions that were puzzling before they inevitably backfired in a game the Yankees lost, but had a chance to win.
I know the Yankees have the best record in baseball and lead the AL East by eight games and I have nothing to complain about, but when a series of poor choices are made in one game, I feel the need to address it.
On Sunday the Yankees lost a game in which they scored eight runs in a game started by Jered Weaver. And while Ivan Nova wasn’t exactly good (6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3 HR) … OK he sucked … the Yankees had opportunities to build on their early 3-2 lead and even come back from trailing in the late innings. However their comeback would fall short and turn out to just be “Yankees blue balls” thanks to Girardi’s managing throughout the game, which made Kevin Gilbride’s third-down playcalling for the Giants look brilliant.
So after Sunday’s debacle, and despite a series win and all that best record stuff, I thought it was necessary to fill in for Michael Kay on my version of The Joe Girardi Show for the second episode this season and ask Girardi why he made the decisions he made.
What the eff happened on the bases in the third inning?
Here’s the situation: The Yankees have a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, A-Rod singles and Robinson Cano follows that up with a single and A-Rod goes to third. It’s first and third with one out and Mark Teixeira at the plate.
Here’s what Teixeira had done in his last eight games entering Sunday: 10-for-30 (.333), 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBIs, 5 BB, .429 OBP, .867 SLG. In case you weren’t aware, it’s the second half of the season. The All-Star break is over. It’s Teixeira’s time (well, until October). The time of the year when he takes what looks to be the worst statistical season of his career and ends up matching the numbers on the back of his baseball card. Isn’t that right, Michael Kay?
In case you also weren’t aware, Robinson Cano is not a base stealer. Hell, he isn’t even a good base runner. There is this idea around the league (and apparently with the Yankees too) that Cano has speed, but he’s probably the slowest Yankee of the last decade not named Jorge Posada, Jose Molina or Sal Fasano. Yet a couple times a year Cano will get caught stealing at an inopportune time and for some reason opposing pitchers keep throwing over to first thinking he might run. (Cano is 29-for-56 on stolen-base attempts in seven-plus this seasons.)
So you have possibly the hottest hitter in the league at the plate with two on and one out against an elite pitcher who came into the game with an ERA of 1.96, but has already allow three runs and seven hits in just 2 1/3 innings. You would think that you would want your No. 5 hitter to swing the bat in this situation. But what happens? Cano breaks for second and gets picked off. While in a rundown, A-Rod (who actually is a good baserunner) hesitates and breaks late. Erick Aybar tags Cano out and then throws home where A-Rod is out. Yes, a double play on the bases without the ball even being hit.
(Let’s remember for a second that in the past Curtis Granderson, who can actually steal bases, has been held from running, with Mark Teixeira at the plate (when Teixeira is cold) because Girardi has said he doesn’t want to take the bat out of Teixeira’s hands. But when it’s Robinson Cano on first and Teixeira is the hottest he’s been as a Yankee? No big deal!)
Why is Russell Martin bunting in the fifth inning?
I’m not going to talk about Russell Martin bunting for a base hit in the second inning (which ended up serving the same purpose as a sacrifice, but wasn’t scored a sacrifice) because I have to pick my battles and my battle here is why is Russell Martin bunting in the fifth inning?
Here’s the situation: The Yankees lead 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Eric Chavez leads off the inning with a single. Russell Martin is at the plate.
I don’t think I need to explain why the situation I just presented screams, “Don’t bunt! Don’t do it! Please, don’t do it! Don’t look down at third for the sign! Rob Thomson is going to tell you to bunt! Don’t look at him! Don’t do it!” But I will anyway.
The Yankees already have the lead in the game. It’s the fifth inning of an American League game at Yankee Stadium. Why would you play for one insurance run with still four-plus innings of baseball left?
If you don’t know what happened, I bet you’re thinking that Martin bunted it right back to the pitcher and he threw the lead runner out at second. I wish that happened. Instead, Martin popped up the first pitch to Weaver, who threw to first with Chavez off the bag for a double play. Ah, the second unnecessary double play made by the Yankees in less than five innings. But what’s giving away 1 1/3 innings of outs anyway? No big deal!
(On another Girardi decision from the weekend … Why didn’t Russell Martin play on Saturday? Yes, it was a day game after a night game, but Martin had just played his best game of the season on Friday night and had four full days of rest prior to Friday. The Yankees won on Saturday and the move didn’t impact the game, but if you’re trying to get Martin on track for the second half, why isn’t he playing after the offensive and defensive job he did on Friday night?)
Why Chad Qualls in the eighth inning? Why? Actually, why Chad Qualls ever? Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?
I like to imagine a Relievers Anonymous support group where all of the failed Yankees relievers meet at a community center or church or middle school cafeteria and Paul Quantrill serves as the group leader. I see Jose Veras there and Tanyon Sturtze and Sean Henn, Edwar Ramirez and Chan Ho Park. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre are sitting next to each other and next to them are Brian Bruney and Scott Proctor. I can picture Quantrill getting everyone back to their seat from the refreshment table and telling Jonathan Albaladejo he can continue to share his stories from Japan after the session is over.
Quantrill gets everyone to quiet down to introduce the newest member of the group: Chad Qualls. Chad stands up and shyly proclaims, “Hi, my name is Chad, and I suck at pitching.” And led by Quantrill, everyone awkwardly responds, “Hi, Chad.” Qualls then goes on to tell about his career and how despite being on six teams in nine years and having a 5.14 ERA and 1.506 WHIP since the start of 2010, the $200 million Yankees still managed to pick him up.
Here’s the situation: After blowing the 3-2 lead in the sixth by allowing three runs, Girardi lets Nova start the seventh after Granderson homers to make it 5-4 Angels. Nova gives up a double and a single and it’s first and third with no one out. Girardi now decides it’s a good time to take out Nova, and he brings in Chad Qualls with the Yankees trailing 5-3 and Albert Pujols due up. Qualls gets Pujols to ground into a double play, but the run scores. Qualls gives up another hit, but gets out of the inning with the Angels up 6-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, Chavez homers to cut the Angels’ lead to 6-5. I hate to go all John Sterling Talking Baseball Like He’s Talking to Elementary School Children on you, but if the Yankees can hold the Angels, they will have two innings and six outs left to score one run and tie the game. But first the Yankees’ bullpen MUST HOLD the Angels scoreless. So here comes Chad Qualls out for the eighth inning.
With one out, Maicer Izturis walks. Peter Bourjos follows that with a bunt single. A wild pitch moves Izturis to third. Bobby Wilson singles to score Izturis and Bourjos goes to third. Mike Trout doubles to score Bourjos and Wilson goes to third. The Angels now lead 8-5 with one out and the middle of their order coming up. Qualls faces eight hitters and five of them reach base, and three of them score … in 1 1/3 innings.
Where was Boone Logan to start the eighth inning? (Yes, we’re at the point where I want Boone Logan in games.) Oh, that’s right. Logan came in to get the last two outs of the eighth after Qualls let a 6-5 game turn into a 9-5 game. So if Logan was available to pitch and was going to pitch anyway, why was he not used until the game was out of hand? Why wasn’t he out there to start a clean inning?
Qualls should be pitching in games that are over. He shouldn’t be the reason games become over, and he shouldn’t be pitching in high-leverage situations. Really, he shouldn’t be on the Yankees or probably in the league as a whole.
When I found out the Yankees signed Qualls I tweeted that “I hate Chad Qualls.” This meant that he could turn into a dominating force (though unlikely) and I would have already put it out there that I hate him, but I didn’t care. I didn’t give him a chance because I didn’t need to give him a chance. When Brian Cashman signed Qualls he 100-percent knew that at some point he would be designating him for assignment because there was a 100-percent chance Qualls would give him a reason to DFA him. So why pick him up in the first place?
When Qualls came into the game on Sunday, David Cone said he was “surprised that the Yankees were able to steal Chad Qualls off the scrap heap.” There’s a reason for that, and there’s a reason another team will have a chance to “steal” him from the scrap heap in the coming weeks.