By Sweeny Murti
Maybe it was only for a moment, maybe the injuries and inconsistencies the Yankees have endured will be too much to overcome in the end. But for one night, the Yankees turned a downward spiral into an exhilarating win, the kind that turns Greg Golson into a name you’ll have fun remembering at parties years from now. “Who’s the guy that threw out Carl Crawford that night? Remember, the night the Yankees took over first place for good in 2010? Golden? Grayson?
So many moments in this one:
*Robinson Cano’s early home run, then his RBI double after that brutal 7-run 5th inning blew a 6-nothing lead, the double that tied the game again and seemed to say, “I want to be the MVP.”
*Jorge Posada’s home run that was the furthest non-catwalk-hitting blast I think I’ve seen in this ballpark, the pinch-hit homer that helped the Yankees break an awful slide that saw them lose 7 of 8, the last 4 in a row, including 3 walk-offs that made the clubhouse seem more and more miserable every night.
*Curtis Granderson’s all-out dive that sent the game to extra innings. How many bases did that take away from Ben Zobrist if he didn’t catch it? Two? Three? Gulp…four? Big play, no other way to say it.
*Greg Golson (yea, that’s his name!) and the throw that might be the difference between playing the Rays at this dome or at Home Sweet Home in Game 7 of the ALCS. Okay, that’s a little ahead of ourselves, but think about what a difference that game and this stretch run takes if, as Joe Maddon said afterwards, “If that ball hits him and bounds off of him right there, all of a sudden we score another run. When you’re facing Rivera, you do take chances versus Rivera because he does not give up many hits.”
*The Yankee bullpen. They take their lumps quite often during the course of the year because it almost always leads back to them when the Yankees lose a close game late, but they deserve some credit when they help the Yankees win like they did Tuesday night. Yes, Boone Logan gave up a 3-run homer to Willy Aybar that capped off the 7-run 5th inning.
But did anyone realize that the Yankee bullpen didn’t allow another hit until Crawford’s single in the 10th?
Tuesday night the Yankees put an end to their worst slide of the year. Now we find out if it was only a mirage or the real beginnings of a turnaround on the way to a championship.
*Speaking of bullpen, Joe Girardi took a lot of heat for Monday’s game when he held out David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain, using fan un-favorites Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre instead. As always with Girardi there is a reason. You may or may not agree with it, but there is always a reason.
Girardi has gone to great lengths to protect his relievers from overuse. This is nothing new. So even if it seemed as if the Yankees really, really, really needed that game and using those guys just one more time there wasn’t going to make that big of a difference to their health in the long run, Girardi believes those are the kinds of things that send pitchers to the operating room and the 60-day DL, with the only encouraging thought being that this guy “is expected to be ready by spring training.” This is what he’s trying to avoid.
Joe Torre used to go to the whip with his setup relievers. Joe Girardi wants to make sure they don’t break down, because he needs them all the way down the stretch, through the postseason, and through the next season. If you think pitching is thin around the majors, think about how much further you have to go when somebody comes up with a sore elbow or sore shoulder.
It might seem like Girardi is “giving up” on certain games by doing so, and maybe he is. You certainly feel better about your chances with certain relievers as opposed to others no matter how much use or overuse we’re talking about. But if you listen to the man explain in detail, some of his philosophy begins to make sense.
Here is Girardi explaining his bullpen ideals during the pregame session with reporters on Tuesday at Tropicana Field, relating mostly to Monday night’s loss:
Maybe you won’t agree with him, but he does make a compelling argument. Because through all the Rules and Innings Limits that can make you gag, there is the true fact that these Yankees haven’t sent a pitcher down the season-ending surgery road yet.
Trust me, Girardi doesn’t like losing these games any more than you do. And if you stand next to him in those postgame press conference like I do, you can see how much each loss eats at him, especially the gut-wrenching ones of this past week that pile up this late in a pennant race.
Joe Girardi wants to win every day. That should never be doubted. Sometimes he just has to get there a different way than he did the day before, whether we like it or not.