The New York Yankees may not have been expected to get this far but when they’re on the verge of stealing a victory, it makes everything more frustrating.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the New York Yankees faithful is furious with Joe Girardi. However, this time, that ire is unquestionably warranted given he very well might’ve cost his team a chance at a monumental upset.
Joe Girardi's FULL POSTGAME comments after the @Yankees fall to the Indians in 13 innings. #ALDS pic.twitter.com/bkjK8IlxOD
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 7, 2017
If you’re a diehard fan, the euphoria of winning the next 10 World Series wouldn’t be enough to supplant the heartbreak of what transpired on Friday night in Cleveland. Imagine being that close to giving the Indians just their fifth loss in their last 39 games, but having it all implode because of the head-scratching, mind-boggling decision-making by a manager who should know better.
Some will replace the feelings of being demoralized with those of contentment since, you know, “they’re playing with house money and shouldn’t be here anyway.” That’s halfway true. Prior to the season, no one truly believed the Yankees would win 91 games and find themselves in a competitive series against the reigning American League champions.
But the frustration directly emanates from the reality that the Yanks, heavy underdogs and all, were good enough to beat the Indians. No team in baseball finished with more home runs (241) than the Bronx Bombers. Dingers are, of course, the ultimate equalizer. Additionally, the Yankees finished first in the AL in walks (616), which could wear out a staff. This is a team rife with tremendous young talent offensively. And the much maligned pitching staff finished fifth in the MLB in ERA (3.72).
Regardless of how you viewed the disparity between these two teams, the Yanks had an 8-3 lead in Cleveland with one out in the 6th inning. This had “pivotal Game 3 on Sunday” written all over it with the scene set to shift to the Bronx. Girardi said that the stadium sounded similar to a college football arena last Tuesday when his team took down the Twins in the Wild Card round. How raucous would this crowd have been smelling blood and sniffing a 2-1 series lead? The answer to that question is one we’ll never know, but I’m sure it would be a better one than Girardi’s non-challenge explanation.
It’s interesting that his reason for not asking the umpires to review the play was that his instincts as a former catcher told him to avoid disrupting a pitcher’s flow. Apparently, allowing Chad Green to stand on the mound for a few minutes as they waited for the call would have been the worst thing in the world. But a few batters earlier, Girardi had no qualms with interrupting the flow of a CC Sabathia, who was 9-0 following Yankees losses this year and had retired 12-of-13 in this game. Odd.
As great as the Indians are, the Yanks were in their house on the cusp of beating them. They almost had created a series where Terry Francona and company were facing their first form of adversity pretty much all season. But Girardi and the Yankees blew it, as they gave you a clinic on everything not to do when trying to defeat a superior opponent on the road in the playoffs.
The Indians took a commanding 2-0 series lead and needed every one of the Yankees’ mistakes to eke this one out. Ronald Torreyes getting picked off at second base? Todd Frazier’s two errors? Chad Green’s hanging slider? David Robertson’s 3-1 pitch to Jay Bruce? Girardi’s incorrigible managerial decisions? Yeah, this reeks of the Yankees losing this one more than the Indians winning it. This reeks of the Yankees doing much more than just playing with house money and actually having a chance to beat the high and mighty Indians.