Now obviously I’m not a fan of small ball or having base runners moving just for the heck of it, but my appreciation for Girardi’s comments here go far beyond my relief that Robinson Cano isn’t going to be laying one down to advance the runners anytime soon. More importantly, it’s good to see that the manager of the team isn’t letting the fact that his team has gone from leading their division by 10 games to leading by just one, with a one-day tie in between, radically affect the way the team is going to approach the game over the last month of the season. I’m not a big believer in the power of intangibles by any means, but I think it’s just a universal truth that people need to go to work in a productive, relatively calm environment to be at their most productivity, and having your boss dramatically change the way you’re doing business, especially when you just aren’t built for the new approach, is a recipe for disaster. Aside from the fact that it creates a new level of chaos in what is already probably a tinderbox of emotions, the last thing Girardi needs to do right now is get the idea in the players’ heads that they need to go up to the plate looking to win the pennant with every swing.
Now, that’s not to say there might not be a time and a place for a different approach, given that the Yankees’ lineup is a little shorter than we’re accustomed to it being, and you certainly saw that work out in the seventh inning last night. Jayson Nix comes up with two on and no one out? Sure, go ahead and move the runners over, and give Derek Jeter a chance to strike the big blow. Jeter’s standing on second base with one out and gets a good jump on the pitcher? By all means, try to steal third. But that’s much different than playing small ball just because the approach that’s been working for them for most of the season suddenly isn’t over the past 2-3 weeks. The Yankees were the best offense in baseball earlier in the season, and they’ll be working with essentially the same lineup once Mark Teixeira returns from his calf injury. Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and the other key pieces of the offense are (probably) going to start hitting again sooner or later. Best of all, there will still be 22 games left in the season no matter what happens this weekend in Baltimore, so the Bombers will have plenty of time to try to straighten out their act at the plate.
And remember, even though they small balled their way to the two run margin of victory last night (helped out, I should add, by a really atrocious throwing error by Elliot Johnson), the other four runs in the game were all driven in by extra base hits.