After making the dubious decision of keeping proficient bats on the bench in a one-run game, New York Yankees acting manager Rob Thomson speaks out.
Ronald Torreyes couldn’t quite snag a ground ball down the third-base line, Adam Warren blew a 2-1 lead and Tyler Clippard walked two batters before giving up a go-ahead RBI single to Evan Longoria pave the way to the New York Yankees 15th loss of the season.
Yet, a ton of buzz surrounded bench coach Rob Thomson, who was filling in as the acting manager for Joe Girardi as he attended the high school graduation of his eldest daughter, Selena.
Thomson had taken the reigns three times for the Yankees back in 2008 — twice were when Girardi was sick with an upper respiratory infection and the other when he was serving a suspension. Thomson was 1-2 in the role but fell to 1-3 and the way the latest loss went down, some Yankee fans are presumably hoping Girardi is here to stay.
Down by one run in the top of the ninth, Didi Gregorius, Chris Carter and Austin Romine were due up. After Didi, who entered play with a .358 OBP, popped out to shortstop Tim Beckham, Thompson had the option to go to either Gary Sanchez (135 wRC+), Aaron Hicks (183 wRC+) or Chase Headley (98 wRC+) instead of Carter (78 wRC+) and Romine (79 wRC+).
The acting manager decided to deliver the weakest options to Rays’ closer Alex Colomé, who closed out the 5-4 win in front of a crowd of 21,146 at Tropicana Field while Sanchez and Hicks looked on from the dugout.
“I told [Sanchez] that unless it was an emergency I was going to try and give him a day off,” Thomson said. “In order to do that, it kind of limited my pinch-hitting opportunities.”
Hicks entered play on Friday with the 10th-highest OPS (1.036) in baseball, but wasn’t considered an option as the tying run against Colomé.
“Not really, because [Hicks] would have had to hit for somebody and then we would have had to hit for [Ronald Torreyes],” Thomson said. “Then we’re out of infielders. I had to pick one guy and really it was going to be Headley for Torreyes if somebody got on in the ninth.”
Being a baseball manager isn’t an easy gig. However, to allow Carter and Romine to face one of the better closers in baseball with one of the hottest hitters in baseball and The Kraken himself on the bench, that’s a decision that will be subject to questioning.
Even after hearing the explanation, one cannot help but assume Thomson was over-thinking what was going to happen in the bottom of the ninth instead of actually working to get there.