If you follow this blog, you know I write about the Royals almost exclusively. But this offseason we’ve decided I should continue writing at least a couple times a week and at times that might mean writing about some other team.
And today I’m writing about the Yankees-Indians 13-inning playoff game marathon that took place on Friday night. (If I’m going to spend five hours and nine minutes watching a ballgame, I’m going to get a column out of it.)
For years disgruntled Royals fans used the term “Yosted” to describe a Ned Yost move that backfired, but winning a World Series is a pretty good comeback and you don’t hear “Yosted” quite as often as you used to.
I haven’t heard any Yankee fans describe their team as “Girardied,” but after Friday night’s game, they might want to start.
Here are three moments from Friday night’s game that led to the Yankees defeat.
Pulling CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia started the game for the Yankees and got off to a rough start. He gave up three runs, two of them earned, in the first two innings. But then Sabathia got on a roll and retired 11 straight hitters. By the sixth inning, Sabathia and the Yankees had an 8-3 lead. Sabathia started the sixth inning with a walk and a lineout and was then pulled from the game after 77 pitches.
Chad Green replaced Sabathia, got the second out of the inning, gave up a double and then hit Lonnie Chisenhall with a pitch (more on that momentarily) to load the bases. Two pitches later, Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam and Indians were back in the game.
Afterwards, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked about pulling Sabathia with a five-run lead and a low pitch count and Girardi basically said it was the way they’d been doing it all year.
I’ve heard baseball coaches complain when people ignore what’s happening in front of them and instead rely on scouting reports, overall numbers or predetermined game plans.
The baseball coaches say: “Trust your eyes.”
The game plan might say pull Sabathia after 90 pitches (which means Sabathia still had 13 pitches left in the tank), but if Sabathia is cruising tonight, trust your eyes and let him go.
Sticking to a predetermined game plan when CC Sabathia was pitching well was Joe Girardi not trusting his eyes and that cost the Yankees.
Not challenging the hit by pitch
Back to the hit by pitch that put Lonnie Chisenhall on first, loaded the bases and brought Francisco Lindor to the plate.
Replays showed the ball actually hit the knob of the bat, but Girardi said he didn’t challenge because he had nothing to indicate that Chisenhall was not hit by the pitch. But his catcher, Gary Sanchez — the guy closest to the action — was telling Girardi to challenge. Lonnie Chisenhall did not react like he’d just been hit on the hand by a pitch and Girardi ignored that as well.
Girardi then said he didn’t have enough time to figure out what to do and, as a former catcher, didn’t want to mess up his pitcher’s rhythm.
Green was up in the zone, had gotten a fly ball out, allowed a double and hit a batter. And it’s not as if Girardi has never challenged a call with his pitcher on the mound.
When someone offers you three excuses for what they did, it might indicate none of them is very good.
The defensive positioning on the game winner
In the 11th inning Todd Frazier wound up on second base with nobody out and Girardi pinch ran for him. The pinch runner was Ronald Torreyes and almost immediately, Torreyes managed to get picked off. So in the bottom of the 13th inning, Torreyes was playing third base instead of Frazier.
With nobody out, Cleveland’s Austin Jackson walked and stole second base.
The guy at the plate was Yan Gomes and his job was to hit the ball to the right side of the infield and, if the ball didn’t sneak through for a hit, make sure Jackson was on third base when the next guy came to the plate.
So the Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances was throwing Gomes curves and sliders; off-speed pitches designed to get Gomes to pull the ball to the left side of the infield and freeze Jackson at second base. On the tenth pitch of the at bat, Gomes pulled a slider and Betances had what he wanted; a groundball to the pull side of the field.
But despite knowing his pitcher was throwing off-speed pitches, Torreyes was not positioned on the left-field line. The ball went between him and third base, Jackson scored and the Indians had an extra-inning win.
In 2014 the Royals won a Wild Card game when Salvador Perez pulled a slider past Oakland A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson. Afterwards, several people wondered why Donaldson was not positioned on the line when the A’s pitcher — current Royal Jason Hammel — was throwing Perez nothing but sliders.
The infield coach is supposed to position the players, but nothing prevents a manager from saying: “Shouldn’t our third baseman be closer to the line?”
Girardi is getting blown up
Look up Joe Girardi’s name on the internet this morning and you’ll see a bunch of articles roasting him for Friday night’s game. If the Yankees don’t win this series and Girardi gets fired, this game probably had something to do with it.
When I saw how the Indians won — on a play very similar to the Royals Wild Card win — it made me think of Ned Yost and the term “Yosted.”
But look on the bright side: Royals fans have never been “Girardied.”