Michael Kay: “How many games do the Yankees need to win the rest of the way to get into the playoffs?”
Joe Girardi: “Thirty-five, maybe. It might take 35 to get in.”
That’s what happened on an actual episode of The Joe Girardi Show on YES on Saturday night after the Yankees lost to the Tigers, leaving the team with a 58-57 record. If Girardi truly believed on Saturday night that a 93-69 record was needed to make the playoffs, that would mean the Yankees would have go to 35-12 the rest of the way. That’s a .745 winning percentage for a team that through Saturday’s loss had gone 28-39 since starting the season 30-18.
Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s time for another episode of my version of The Joe Girardi Show. Let’s call this episode “Unnecessary Rest.”
What the eff was that lineup on Tuesday night?
You said on Saturday the team had to win 35 of their remaining 47 games to make the playoffs. You won the first two games after saying so and with the team feeling good about itself for the first time in five weeks, here’s the lineup you put together on Tuesday:
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, DH
Vernon Wells, RF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Jayson Nix, 3B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Austin Romine, C
Brett Gardner had been 6-for-18 (.333) over the last four games with a home run and 3 RBIs and two walk-off hits against the Tigers in three days. He was on the bench on Tuesday.
Ichiro Suzuki had been 6-for-16 over the last five games. He was on the bench on Tuesday.
Eduardo Nunez had one multi-hit game since July 23 in Texas and is hitting .184 against left-handed pitching this season. Let’s have him hit leadoff against a lefty!
Jayson Nix is hitting .232, .261 against lefties and is 3-for-17 (.176) since coming off the disabled list. Let’s have him in the lineup at all!
Now the Yankees put up 14 runs, which tied a season-high (they also scored 14 on April 9 in Cleveland in the eighth game of the season), and me questioning the lineup after such a win seems ridiculous, but I have to because I questioned it when it was originally announced and after the game started, so I have to here as well to stand my ground.
But you caught a break, Joe, because of a terrible call by home plate umpire David Rackley on Chris Nelson for leaving early on an inning-ending double play in the sixth, which would have tied the game at 4. This led to Mike Scioscia deciding he was going to make Rackley make as many trips to the mound as possible to break up mound visits for the rest of the game as Scioscia used four relievers over the final 3 2/3 innings (though Girardi would have used six over that time without being furious with an umpire). You caught a break, but don’t let it happen again. Don’t let me see Jayson Nix starting another game with A-Rod and Nunez healthy.
Was it really necessary to give A-Rod a day off on Saturday?
On Friday night, Miguel Cabrera fouled a 1-2 pitch from Mariano Rivera off his leg and limped around, wincing in pain, enough pain that Jim Leyland and the Tigers trainer had to come out and check on him. And then he fouled the next pitch of the at-bat off his leg as well. Two pitches later he hit a 427-foot two-run home run to straightaway center field, reaching the net in Monument Park.
On Saturday, Cabrera was back in the lineup and went 3-for-5 with another home run.
And on Sunday, Cabrera beat Number 42 again, on a 2-2 pitch to lead off the ninth inning in what would end up being a third straight blown save for Number 42.
Since fouling those two balls off his body on Friday night against Rivera, Cabrera is 8-for-18 with four home runs and five RBIs and has started all the games since for the Tigers. (Update: He hit another home run on Wednesday.)
On Saturday, Alex Rodriguez wasn’t in the lineup. Why? Here’s what you said about it, Joe:
“It’s a day-by-day. You think about that we had a real late night last night. If we didn’t have that late night, maybe I play him today. It would have been the first day game after a night game. I’m just trying to be proactive in this and make sure that we don’t run him into the ground, where he ends up hurting something else.”
DO YOU NOT REALIZE HOW MANY GAMES ARE LEFT IN THE SEASON? DO YOU NOT SEE THE DEFICIT THE YANKEES NEED TO OVERCOME TO WIN THE DIVISION OR A WILD CARD? IS THIS THE FIRST DAY GAME AFTER A NIGHT GAME HE WOULD BE PLAYING IN HIS CAREER? WHAT ARE YOU BEING PROACTIVE ABOUT? WHY AREN’T YOU TRYING TO RUN HIM INTO THE GROUND? YOU OWE HIM $28 MILLION THIS SEASON! HE JUST HAD A 10-MONTH BREAK! HE IS APPEALING A 211-GAME SUSPENSION! HE MOST LIKLEY ISN’T PLAYING BASEBALL IN 2014 AND MIGHT NEVER PLAY AGAIN! RUN HIM INTO THE GROUND! RUN HIM INTO THE EFFING GROUND!
Sure, Cabrera is 30 years old and the best player in the world and A-Rod is a 38-year-old declining star coming off a second hip surgery in four years, but Jim Leyland had no reason to put Cabrera in the lineup the day after a scary incident like that (which could have destroyed the Tigers season) with the Tigers holding an eight-game lead that day over the Indians. Meanwhile, A-Rod had an off day on Thursday, two days prior to Saturday’s loss, and had played in just four games in 10 months. And he gets a day off for an afternoon game like some backup catcher? Are you effing kidding me? Keep on resting everyone, Joe. Keep on resting everyone like it’s September 2010 again because you have such a big lead on a playoff spot.
Speaking of Cabrera and those home runs against Number 42 …
Why didn’t Mariano Rivera pitch the ninth inning on Monday?
There are 44 games left in the Yankees season today, which means there are 44 games left in Mariano Rivera’s career. But really there are way fewer games left in Rivera’s career because he won’t pitch in all 44. That should mean that it’s time to empty the tank and the right arm of the best relief pitcher in the history of baseball, but for some reason you’re saving Rivera’s right arm for a postseason that might not happen and a 2014 season that’s not happening. Now isn’t the time to count Rivera’s pitches and worry about his innings. I’m pretty sure Mariano Rivera would rather his last game ever be in a postseason setting rather than in the final home game of the season against the Rays on September 26, and even if the Yankees don’t make the playoffs, I’m sure he wants to do everything possible to try to.
On Monday night, the day after Rivera had blown his third straight save, with the Yankees leading the Angels 2-0 in a must-win game at the Stadium, you decided to give your closer a rest and gave the ball to Boone Logan to start the ninth before going to David Robertson for the final two outs of the game. The Angels scored a run to make it 2-1 and with the bases loaded and two outs and a full count on Chris Nelson, Robertson got Nelson to swing at a pitch that would have cleared the backstop betting if Nelson had taken it. Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win! But if anyone else other than Chris “Designated For Assignment” Nelson had been up, the game is likely tied or the Angels are ahead and we’re probably talking about the most obvious second-guess of all time.
I don’t care that Rivera blew a save against the White Sox on Wednesday night and I don’t care that he gave up two home runs to the best hitter on the planet and a fellow first-ballot Hall of Famer and blew two saves against the Tigers in three days. I don’t care that Rivera has blown three straight saves for the first time in his 17 years as a closer. If the Yankees have a lead in the ninth inning and it’s a save opportunity and the starter isn’t going for a complete game then Number 42 better be in the game. No exceptions.