In another classic New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox game last night, which was way more important for the Yanks than it was for the Red Sox, Yankees manager Joe Girardi over-managed the pitching situation. I’m not saying that the loss was solely on the skipper, but the way it turned out didn’t make him look like a genius.
Right after the Yankees tied up the game in the top of the seventh, Hiroki Kuroda went back out on the mound to try and shut down the Red Sox and give the Yanks a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth.
That is far from what happened. Kuroda faced one batter, Shane Victorino, who hit a hard ground ball to third and Eduardo Nunez booted it. The bullpen then hit a batter and issued a walk, which culminated in a grand slam that took the air out of the Yanks.
Kuroda had begun to ease into the game after a rough first two innings and looked in control from there until the bottom of the seventh. After one hard hit ball that should have been an out, Girardi’s quick pull of Kuroda was the downfall to the game. His leash was inordinately quick on Phil Hughes two days ago, even though the Yanks did win the game.
But, this bullpen has been overused in the past couple of weeks, and there really aren’t many reliable arms that can come in in sticky situations. The Yankees’ relievers have the worst numbers in the majors in September, which includes five blown saves. With no one to trust to come running in from the outfield is a troubling situation to be in and in hindsight, Kuroda should have stayed in the ballgame.
He was under 100 pitches and threw a third of them in the first inning. Girardi has been a phenomenal manager all year and should get consideration for the manager of the year award, but with the bullpen’s current state, he must tread carefully because their relievers haven’t been their strong suit in recent weeks.