Back In The Saddle?

September 15, 2010 – 10:32 am

NYY 8, Tampa Bay 7. At last, some signs of life and an end to the longest losing streak of the season. Although there was still plenty of ugly here, for once there were some positives as well. On the ugly side, once again the Yankees offense couldn’t hit with men on base, leaving 11 runners stranded, 7 in scoring position, and going a combined 2-for-12 with RISP. Mark Teixeira continues to struggle at the plate, and Austin Kearns makes Tex look good, earning a golden sombrero with 4 Ks. And the bullpen failed to hold a lead for the third time in the last four games.

Jorge Game WinnerBut at least this time there were also a bunch of positives to more than offset the negatives. After going without a home run in the last four games, the Yankees went yard three times, including the game winning pitch-hit homer by Jorge Posada. Alex Rodriquez also got a homer, and continued his hot streak — in the eight games since he got back from his injury, he’s hitting .344 with 10 RBIs. Robbie Cano also seems to be getting hot again — over the last 10 games he’s hitting .333 with 7 RBIs. And even Derek Jeter is maybe starting to swing the bat well, going 2-for-5 last night. With the starting rotation still pretty much in shambles beyond CC Sabathia, if the Yanks are going to win the division it’s going to take a lot of offense, so hopefully this is a sign that the offense is indeed back.

And speaking of the division title….. Joe Girardi pretty much removed all doubt about where his priorities lie about winning the division when he left Ivan Nova in as long as he did in the fifth inning. Nova was melting down rapidly, and after he walked Crawford with Longoria coming up, you pretty much have to go to the bullpen at that point if you put any kind of priority on a win. And then after Longoria singles to put the tying run on base and with a lefty coming up — well, bringing in Boone Logan is an automatic call. Now in a way you can’t fault Girardi for what he did — Nova looks to be a good prospect, and giving him the opportunity to pick up the win and to work out of a jam in that situation is a good learning experience for him. So I can see his logic. But he clearly put the priority of winning a critical game in the division race on the back burner. And this just goes along with the weak excuses he had for how he used the bullpen in the previous loss to the Rays. The reality is that he’s looking ahead to the playoffs, and making decisions on what will have the team in the best shape for the playoffs, and not on winning the division. Now obviously he’s not going to come out and say that — but there’s no longer any doubt about what the strategy is. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

Photo: ESPN Box Score | FanGraphs Game Graph | PitchFX Game Tool

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