This from NY Post hockey guru Larry Brooks:
“He’s pitched Upton tougher than he’s pitched Longoria during the course of his career,” Girardi said. “That’s why I made the move.”
The small samples showed that Upton had gone 1-for-7 with six strikeouts against Rivera while Longoria had gone 2-for-6 with a home run, so the manager was technically correct. But Longoria, bothered by a sore hamstring, hadn’t played since Tuesday, and would not have been able to leg anything out had he hit a grounder; indeed, he was replaced by a pinch runner as soon as he took the base he was given by Girardi.
But is this what it’s come to for Rivera, pulled in the middle of an inning for the second time already this year after suffering that fate once over the previous three years and three times total over the last six seasons? Is it now about his comparable success against batters he’s faced fewer than 10 times over the course of his career?
Or is playing percentages with the closer an indication that the manager doesn’t have faith that the Great Rivera can still get anybody out at any time, because it sure appeared that way yesterday?
That walk to the mound and the instruction to intentionally walk Longoria sure seemed like a vote of no confidence from the manager, even to Rivera, who came as close to saying that as possible without actually using the words.
“If it were me, I would have pitched to [Longoria], but I’m not the manager,” said Rivera, who yielded an RBI single to Upton that prompted Girardi to pull him. “[Why?] Because that’s what I do; I don’t go out there to intentionally walk guys.
“I think I have good stuff to get people out, but it’s not my decision.”
Apparently an intentional walk means that the manager has no confidence in the pitcher. Joe Torre obviously had no faith in Mariano, being that he asked him to issue intentional passes on 31 occasions. Seriously now, the manager made a strategic decision that made plenty of sense and was in no way disrespectful towards Mo. Mo was having a rough afternoon, and Girardi saw an opportunity to avoid having him face the RBI leader. I do not see how a decision that would have been the right move with Mariano in his prime could be viewed as a slap in the face. Mo clearly wanted to face Longoria, but most pitchers have that competitive streak that makes them want to face every hitter. I do not think he took Girardi’s decision personally, and Brooks seems to be injecting controversy where there is none. Maybe he should stick to writing about hockey.
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