Defending Joe Girardi’s Sixth Inning
In one brutal sixth inning, everything seemed to go wrong for the Yankees leading many to blame Joe Girardi for the Indians rally that turned an 8-3 laugher into a tense 8-7 game.
During that inning, Girardi’s decisions were questioned many times. Here’s why they were defensible:
Through 5.1 innings, CC Sabathia was at 77 pitches, and he had a five run lead. He seemed to be cruising having retired 12 of the last 13 batters.
Certainly, this is a move worthy of second guessing, or is it?
This season, opposing batters are hitting .264/.347/.552 off Sabathia once Sabathia surpasses 75 pitches. It wasn’t a one year blip either. In 2016, batters hit .292/.358/.500 when Sabathia threw over 75 pitches.
Looking at the numbers, pulling Sabathia was the right move. That goes double when you consider Sabathia issued a lead-off walk to Carlos Santana to start that faithful sixth inning. You don’t want to open the door for the Indians to get things rolling. On top of that, you have a great bullpen. One that should’ve held onto a five run lead.
Not Challenging a HBP
With a run already in and runners on second and third, pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch. Or was he?
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
Based on the replay, the ball appeared to hit the knob of the bat and not Chisenhall’s hand. First, everyone screamed for Girardi to challenge the play. Then, everyone went apoplectic Girardi didn’t challenge the play.
The thing is that’s not Girardi’s call.
There’s a system in place for challenges. Every team has a video to assess whether a challenge should be made. A manager does not have access to that or any video. That’s in accordance with MLB rules.
Girardi didn’t blow it there. The Yankees replay people did.
And let’s not go down the road Girardi shouldn’t challenged because Gary Sanchez was emphatic.
Players are always emphatic. They’re also wrong most of the time. If the manager relied solely on player reaction, teams would be pout if challenges before the bottom of the third.
So no, this was not on Girardi.
Sticking with Green Too Long
After Chisenhall was hit by the pitch, Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam off Chad Green to pull the Indians to within one run. This led to people questioning whether Girardi stick with Green too long.
At the time of the grand slam, Green had faced three batters throwing 21 pitches.
Green didn’t look good in that inning, and Lindor is a dangerous hitter who hit 33 homers this season.
Green was also the Yankees best reliever this season posting a 1.83 ERA and a 0.739 WHIP. Sticking with him is certainly understandable.
It’s also understandable fans judged the result of the Lindor grand slam as proof positive Girardi should have gone to David Robertson. Of course the people making this point are conveniently overlooking how Robertson would give up the game tying home run to Jay Bruce.
— SportsTime Ohio (@SportsTimeOhio) October 7, 2017
It also overlooks Lindor is 1-2 with two walks off Robertson in his career. Small sample for sure, but it does highlight how Robertson can sometimes lose the strike zone. Not ideal when the bases are loaded.
Also not ideal is the fact Robertson allowed 44.4% of inherited runners to score this season.
Looking at the totality of the circumstances, it’s not as clear as to what Girardi should’ve done.
Green is your best reliever. He came this close to getting out of it. He also didn’t look great leaving the door open for that rally.
You could have been just as justified staying Green as you do with going to Robertson. On the one hand, you have your best reliever who is struggling. On the other is a good reliever who can have issues with walks and allowing inherited runners to score.
It’s fine to second guess Girardi there, but let’s not pretend this was as clear-cut as the Yankees replay team blowing the chance to challenge.
In the end, Girardi made very defensible moves, and they didn’t work out. He was failed by his bullpen and replay team.
Overall, that sixth inning was a nightmare for the Yankees, but by no means was that on Girardi. That was more on the bullpen.