Deja Vu All Over Again

April 5, 2010 – 11:38 am

Boston 9, NYY 7. The Yankees opened in ugly fashion last night, and reminded us all that the few weaknesses they had last year could well haunt us again this year. Over the last month of last year’s season and certainly through the post-season, Girardi overall did an excellent job of managing the bullpen — and I had hoped that would carry over to the 2010 season. But alas, if last night’s game is any indication, Girardi is right back in early 2009 form.

CC Sabathia got off to a good start, giving up just one hit over the first 4.2 innings, and the offense had provided him with a solid 5-1 lead. But then the wheels came off — as is to be expected by now with CC in the early spring. He gave up three back-to-back singles to the bottom of the Red Sox lineup, but then escaped by striking out Ellsbury and keeping the lead at 5-2. But then he walks Pedroia leading off the 6th, and you got to figure at that point Girardi has seen enough, particularly given CC’s early season history. But no, Girardi leaves him in and before the dust has settled and Girardi wakes up, it’s a 5-4 game and the tying run is in scoring position. David Robertson finally does come in to put out the fire, but now it’s a new game, tied at 5-5.

But the Yankee offense is picking up right where it left off last year, and Tex, A-Rod and Posada quickly get the lead back with two runs in the top of the 7th. So what does Girardi do in the bottom of the 7th? Robertson had quickly retired two of the three batters he faced, and had only thrown six pitches (all strikes). Clearly you send him out for the 7th, hope Joba can set things up for Mo in the 8th, and then let the Sandman do his thing — and 2010 starts out on a good note all around. But nope, that would make way too much sense. Instead Girardi brings in, of all people, Chan Ho Park to pitch the 7th — and three batters later the game is tied. But that’s not enough for Girardi — he then goes to Damaso Marte who immediately wild pitches the winning run to third, and then let’s that run score on a pitch that was scored a passed ball but which was just as much Marte’s fault as it was Posada’s. And that was the ball game.

The two major weaknesses of the Yankees last year were Girardi’s poor bullpen management and unreliable middle relief. Now there’s nothing you can do about the latter. By definition, middle relievers are always going to be unreliable — if they weren’t they would become starters somewhere. So that’s something you just have to live with, and it’s up the manager to make up for the weakness by knowing who to go to and when. On that score Girardi got a failing grade last night, and that’s why this one ended up in the loss column.

Oh well, we’ve got 161 more to play! So let’s chalk this one up to a Girardi brain fart and move on.

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