Fenway is a ballpark that no lead is ever safe in, but yesterday’s game is especially tough to take. Having famed Red Sox killer AJ Burnett on the mound with a 6-0 lead is one that even long time Yankee fans will start to put in their back pockets. But once again, Fenway reminded us all just how tough a place it can be to hold onto a lead.
One issue that keeps coming up Girardi and his bullpen management. He seems to have a magic touch one day and everything blows up in his face the next. To say this bullpen has been inconsistent would be an understatement. But for the most part, its not Girardi’s fault.
One issue fans and the Fox announcers brought up is the idea that the Yankee bullpen is overworked. I’d like to buy into that, with the extra innings games we’ve recently played and the early exits from Wang, but its simply not the case. We had an off day on Thursday, and Joba got us to the 6th on Friday. We used 4 relievers in Friday’s game, we have 9 guys out there. The only ones who were used back to back are Alby, Marte and Coke. Considering how many innings they’ve had to throw, Girardi has done his usual good job of spreading the workload around, and has plenty of arms out there to handle the workload. No one reliever has more than 10 IP for the entire month of April. The bullpen is NOT overworked, it was just ineffective yesterday.
Another cry from Yankee fans was ‘why not leave in Phil Coke?’ Would that be the same Coke who got destroyed when Girardi did exactly that in Kansas City? People need to understand who Coke is. Phil Coke is a lefty specialist, one who you can let for an extra batter or two here and there. He features a fastball and a slider. The slider is very hittable from the right hand side of the plate, even if you back door it. Also, his velocity still isn’t where it was late last year.
My only complaint about Girardi was with Alby, and even that was a close call and his reasoning was solid, it just didn’t work out. He was missing up in the zone and he’s sinkerballer, so (like Wang) he will get crushed when he doesn’t get his pitches down. But he was getting some of his pitches down, especially after the first batter, so it was tricky. At the time Lowell came to the plate Alby had faced 3 batters, only 1 of which got a hit. It was a righty-righty matchup, second in a row after Bay so there’s no reason to pull him out there. Bay has killed the Yanks, Lowell was 0-3 at the time. I know what Girardi was thinking, one good pitch and Alby gets me a double play to get out of the inning. But with Alby missing up in the zone it had the potential to backfire, which it did. Also, give some credit to the hitter. That 3 run bomb by Lowell was a pitch right in on his hands. He did a great job of squaring that pitch up and ESPECIALLY keeping it fair. I saw that replay 5 times and I’m still amazed that wasn’t a foul ball. But Lowell is good at doing that, we’ve seen him do it before.
Finally, dont fall into the trap of thinking these games mean any more than any other games. Its still just one regular season game off the schedule. Had we lost 2 games to the Indians, there would be no need to panic, and there isn’t any reason here. Going into this series I felt that considering that we are in Boston, how hot the Sox were and how banged up we are, I figured one out of three would be fine. The game we really had to win was Friday’s game, but we still have a chance to walk away with that win with Andy going tonight.
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