DENVER (CBSNewYork/AP) — Yankees manager Joe Girardi batted starting pitcher David Phelps eighth in their lineup Wednesday night instead of the more traditional ninth spot in an interleague game against Colorado.
Girardi took the unusual step to help protect his left-handed heavy lineup against a Rockies bullpen filled with left-handed relievers. Righty hitting catcher Austin Romine batted ninth.
“It’s not like I’m trying to reinvent the game, it’s not like I’m trying to make something up,” Girardi said prior to the 3-2 win. “I’m trying to maximize our pinch hitters and the people I have in our lineup. That’s the bottom line.”
It didn’t end up mattering much. Phelps and Romine went a combined 0 for 5 with four strikeouts.
“Our lineup has not been traditional this year because of all the injuries and we’ve had to do some things,” Girardi said. “We don’t have the switch hitters we’ve had in the past to divide guys up, so I’m just trying to make it harder for other teams to navigate through our lineup.”
The Rockies started right-hander Juan Nicasio.
Girardi says he borrowed the idea of batting his right-hander eighth from Tony La Russa. He spoke to the former St. Louis Cardinals manager a couple of years ago asking him when he employed the tactic and what the benefits were.
“It’s not something that I just off the cuff did,” Girardi said. “I’ve had discussions with Tony La Russa I’ve talked to our people about it and I just thought it made sense tonight. … Just because of the way their bullpen is set up with our lefties, and not having a whole lot of right-handed pinch hitters.”
The lineup was met with bewilderment on Twitter and sports talk radio when it was announced.
“Alright, hold on to your hat when I give you the Yankee lineup tonight, because you’re not going to understand it,” said WFAN host Mike Francesa. “Nor do I.”
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