Picking up the pieces from Game One

1. It’s hard to put into words just how much losing Jeter hurts the Yankees. Not only is it a huge psychological and emotional blow to see the face of your franchise, a guy who doggedly plays through pain like Jete has been doing for a month, literally carried off of the field like that, but Jeter was one of their best hitters at the moment to boot! I think Jayson Nix will fill in about as adequately as he could defensively, but he’s not much with the bat against right-handed pitchers, and that’s all he’s going to see i this series. And while Ichiro had another good performance last night, he’s not going to be able to carry the weight at the top of the lineup all by himself without some people who aren’t doing anything finally getting their act together.

2. Speaking of the offense, they’ve really now reached a level of embarrassment at which the baseball gods are toying with them, allowing them a scoring outburst only as a result of an impromptu game of “Who’s More Awful?” with Jose Valverde. Other than that? Bupkiss. The incredible thing about it is that the offense isn’t actually terrible from top to bottom, and several people are actually doing quite well. Jeter, Ichiro, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez, and Russell Martin have all been hitting, and all continued to perform well last night. The problem is that Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Grandersonare collectively more awful than those guys are good, and they’re killing scoring chances.

3. With that in mind, how does this sound for a lineup right now: Ichiro-Martin-Ibanez-Tex-Cano-Swisher-Granderson-Nix-Chavez? Not the most conventional lineup, I know, but you have to do something reasonably drastic with the loss of Jeter, and you might as well stack the guys who are actually giving you quality at bats at the top of the lineup and set them all up with one another. You’ve gotta get the auto outs like Cano and A-Rod out of a position where they’re adding outs to the scoreboard and making it hard for the guys around them to grind out runs.

4. I’m not going to get to carried away with this, because Girardi did a legitimately excellent job of calling the shots in the ALDS, but his bullpen management last night was ridiculous, something right out of his worst moments in 2010-11. Bringing Derek Lowe in to relieve Andy Pettitte in the seventh inning was bad enough, but leaving him in in the eighth, and allowing Boone Logan to face a righty, is the sort of mid-June managing you can’t do this time of year. I know the win expectancy charts aren’t very good when you’re down 2-0 in the eighth inning, but a) that matters MUCH less in the postseason when the marginal value of each win is orders of magnitude higher than in the regular season and, b) you have to account for the fact that Jim Leyland is going to stick with Valverde as his closer, so you’re going to get a much better shot at a comeback than the averages would suggest. Even if you had Fernando Rodney looming, however, you’ve got to use your best relievers to keep these games within striking distance as much as you possibly can, and last night is a great example of why.

5. While we’re on the topic of Girardi, he really needs to figure out what he’s going to do with A-Rod and actually stick to some sort of plan. Right now he seems to have found the worst possible arrangement, and it’s kind of embarrassing for everyone that A-Rod has apparently settled into a routine of starting the game only to be symbolically pinch hit for once the Yankees are behind on the scoreboard late in the game. I personally think he should just go the whole nine yards and let Chavez start (I know Chavez hasn’t been awesome in his place, but he hasn’t gotten regular at bats either), but failing that he should at least pinch hit for him in higher leverage situations. Thursday night he left A-Rod in with runners on second and third and one out, only to have Ibanez pinch hit with no one on and two outs in the ninth, and then last night he leaves Alex in with runners on second and third with no outs in the sixth inning, the same inning in which the Tigers got two runs in the top of the frame, but then pinch hits Chavez with the Yankees down 4-0, no one on, and one out in the eighth. There’s just no real logic to these moves at all.

6. I don’t know what Nick Swisher‘s problem is, but the two balls he failed to catch that led directly to runs were completely inexcusable. The liner in the 12th inning should have been caught, period, and he should have at least made an effort to dive for Delmon Young‘s bloop single in the sixth with Miguel Cabrera running full speed without regard to a double play at second base. Swisher had a pretty good game to start this postseason, but it’s been all downhill at the plate from there, and that effort in the field last night was just atrocious. If I’m the manager, I’m very much thinking about sitting Swisher in favor of Brett Gardner today, or at least removing him for defense in the seventh or eighth inning.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

20 thoughts on “Picking up the pieces from Game One

  1. Wow, you really hit it on all cylinders with this one. But Girardi's loyalty to his players and his belief that it will be "this" game that the player/s turns it around isn't going to change. Obviously (but not to Girardi) you don't have the time like you do during the season to give players a chance to play through a slump, you have to make some tough changes now. Time is most definitely running out. Perhaps the injury to Jeter will clear out the thick fog that has become like a piece of furniture in the managers office, and allow him to see more clearly the things he must do to help this team win.

  2. Even though we are still in it. Yesterday's loss felt like we lost the series. The comeback was wasted and the bullpen moves were very questionable. Half the team is hitting and the other half is trying to hit a homer every at bat. It's tough watching and with the captain out, the series gets even tougher.

  3. Two thoughts. First, I agree, they need to sit A-Rod, now! I know he's not the only one in a hitting funk, but his AB's are a complete embarrassment. The one in the 6th was a joke. I turned to my wife and said "Well, he can't hit into a double play, so he'll just strike out". Sure enough, he did. I turned the game off after that, I couldn't stand to watch anymore. The comeback in the 9th was nice, but a case of too little, too late. Doesn't matter, they lost anyway. Second, I know this has nothing to do with the article, but if the flacks on TBS mention one more time the whole short porch nonsense I'm going to barf. Seems as if they brought it up everytime a ball was hit to right field. Christ, you'd think the game was being played in a Little League park the way they constantly harp on it.

    • I don’t so much care if they keep starting him, but if you know you’re going to PH for him late in the game, DO IT IN HIGH LEVERAGE SPOTS! Don’t keep giving him three at bats no matter the situation before you take him out in his last, somewhat meaningless, at bat.

  4. I'm trying to stay positive so Cano, Swisher, and the rest of guys who aren't stepping up will not be mentioned any more. But…..

    How awesome has the starting pitching been? Honestly, starting pitchers for Yankees are 6/6 in terms of starts giving them a chance to win.

    Additionally, Tex has looked quite sharp at the plate, and if there is a walk, he takes it.

    And Ibanez is so clutch. It is wild.

  5. Trying to not give up hope in this series, but it's really hard right now. Losing the game is one thing, but losing Jete is another. However, I do feel he will be pulling for everyone, and maybe he gives some great speech that turns everyone around.

    It cannot be stated enough how important it is that the Yanks win the game today. Today is the whole series.

    • Absolutely! If they lose today, they'll have to win 2 of 3 in Detroit just to bring the series back to NY. Pretty tall order, especially the way they're hitting.

  6. Why sit A-Rod, when Cano and Granderson are equally horrid? I don't care how "bad" you say Alex's at bats have been, have you watched Granderson or Cano?

    Sit Granderson for Gardner. Sit Cano for Nix, put Nunez at short. IF you're going to "shake things up" just for the sake of shaking, shake the entire putrid mess.

    • Agree 100%! They gotta get Gardner in there! The other guys are SO BAD at this point, why not??!!! Really, why the heck not?! I like Nunez's bat. His glove scares me but again, why the heck not?!?! Give it a try!!! Have the stones to do it! I'm not sure if Girardi does, though.

  7. A word of optimism for you guys . . .

    Rooting for a team that is often the favorite, the "coin toss" that is the baseball postseason is usually a point of frustration. I find myself wishing for a 21-game series so that we can work through all of the luck involved in short series. Every time an 88 win team wins the series, I just shake my head and say, "enjoy the wild ride; it's baseball!"

    This time, remember that it works both ways. Some more great starting pitching and a few good bounces our way and we're in the series. Look at this past game. A-Rod drilled a ball that was a few inches from a two run single. Cano *did* knock in a run, but the "bad luck" of a poor call counteracted it. A temporary wall turned a double into a triple. Nick Swisher got his glove knocked away by a ghost!

    Bucky Dent and Brian Doyle were stars of past postseasons (yes, I'm old). Yes, Reggie Jackson hit important postseason homers. So did Aaron Boone and Scott Brosius.

    Look at it another way. Knock Jeter out of the lineup and put a couple of players in slumps and, with a mostly healthy pitching staff, the Yankees are probably a 86 win team. The Tigers won 88.

    It's a fun, exciting game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Just enjoy it!

  8. The whole series is tonight. Its really a two game loss if you don't win because you have Verlander waiting for game 3 without having CC to match up. Its all about being patient at the plate and getting into the Tigers bullpen, that's how you beat them and either Cano or Rodriguez NEED to have a big game.

    • Chris, yes! Tiger's bullpen is vulnerable. I hope Kuroda can keep it close and Yanks can score a couple in the first 6 innings. I believe in Cano more than ARod, as bad as Cano has been too. Cano can do it!!!

  9. Good point! So, going with the Dent-Doyle theory that's why Girardi HAS to play Gardner and Nix, maybe Nunez……….the Tigers will never see them coming. They will "fly under the radar" and bam! Hit "em before they know what happens. Swisher is a big show off who wants to hit the BIG FLY. When he comes up and we need a single, or a ground out even…..he's SWINGING for the MOON! Like Grandy!!!!! It's too hard to watch! He doesn't get it! And he NEVER will. I don't care how good Swisher is in the regular season. He is the worst post season player I have ever seen. He even managed to botch 2 plays in the outfield and where the heck was he on Jackson's triple?!?!??!!!. I could run faster to that ball backwards!!!!!! At least we know if Gardner plays, he's going to give it all he's got for the team. That's how he got hurt back in April. It's like Dustin Pedroia, and I know I'm suppossed to hate him cuz he plays for the Sox but that little guy gives it every thing he possibly can on every single play!

  10. Agreed entirely with all of this, except in (5) it's even worse than you stated: Girardi let A-Rod swing away with runners on 2nd and 3rd and _no_ outs in the bottom of the 6th. Given his track record the last several weeks, I think Girardi has got to either pinch hit for him there (not later when it basically doesn't matter) as you say, or – since we're only down two runs at that point – take a chance and have him try to bunt one in.

  11. What's driving me nuts the most is Swisher. His defense is atrocious and the best thing he's done offensively is walk. Runners in scoring position? Oh God, just don't even bother watching. At this point, I'd rather see Gardner play right. He'll bring some additional speed to the basepaths and solid defense on the field. Anything extra he can contribute would be gravy.

    • Joe, I so agree with you. I just saw the starting lineup though, and unfortunately Gardner is not in for Swisher. Good ol' smile-for -the-camera- Nick is still in there. Ouch!!! Hey, I'll be the first one to cheer for him if he gets a big hit but I have no faith in Swisher right now to get a timely hit. I also have no faith in ARod or Grandy. Lord, I hope I'm wrong. I do have a slight faith in Cano. The lineup is Ichiro, Cano, Tex, Ibanez, Martin, ARod, Grandy, Swish, and Nix. The runs gotta come from the #1 thru #5 guys so at least Girardi did that. When ARod gets up, everybody go take a break, watch football, smoke break, bathroom run, whatever…….then come back when Nix gets up!