A baseball team cannot blow eighth inning leads three games in a row and expect to win the majority of those games. It cannot.
If CC Sabathia pitches your team seven innings of one run ball, and your team has scored five runs, there is utterly no reason that that game should be lost.
You can argue whether or not Cervelli should have bunted (he shouldn’t), whether Winn should have been pinch hit for (not a possibility because Posada and Swisher are still too hurt), or the merits of Thames playing in the outfield (he shouldn’t, but again, not really any other option), but tonight’s game came down to one thing:
A set-up man handed a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning needs to leave that inning with the lead. End of story.
However, tonight, the second time in three games, Chamberlain could not get the job done. You can argue that Girardi should have removed Chamberlain earlier, but with the bullpen, in Girardi’s words, “a mess”, Chamberlain really did need to get the job done. He did not.
You can argue the leverage argument–that once the game got to 5-4, Rivera should have made an appearance, but rushing Rivera to get ready on a rainy night in the forties in May is also not necessarily the best course of action.
I’m no pitching expert, so I can’t tell you what he should have thrown, but half of the pitching battle is (supposedly) that the hitters don’t actually know what’s coming. With Joba, you don’t necessarily have to guess.
So yes, once the ninth inning played out as it did, Marcus Thames should have caught the baseball, the umpires should have called a strike, Cervelli should have not bunted because Robbie Canó was already at second base and Cisco’s got some great RISP numbers, and Randy Winn swung at ball four twice, but NONE of that matters if the Yankees actually manage to hang onto a four run lead in the ninth inning.
Last year, we made fun of the Phillies (and the year before, the Mets) for bullpens that weren’t getting the job done. I know the Yankee bullpen has been overworked, but when Sabathia gives you seven and your two best relievers are available, you have to find a way to win that game.
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