Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Girardi mistake means Burnett in do-or-die game

So the job of saving the 2011 baseball season for the New York Yankees belongs to AJ Burnett. I don’t know about you all, but what started as a dull ache in my stomach has turned into full-fledged queasiness.

If Burnett doesn’t pull off the miracle to keep the Yankees’ season alive, Joe Girardi is going to have some serious questions to answer, starting with why he left in an obviously exhausted CC Sabathia, pitching on two days rest after his rain-shortened start on Friday. Girardi will probably point to the lefties coming up in the lineup, but Sabathia clearly had nothing at that point and it was time to give him the hook, even if he is your ace.

It’s not the first time Girardi has stuck with his starter too long. Remember Burnett’s American League Championship Series start last year? He was pitching a really solid game and instead of pulling Burnett after getting more than he could have expected, Girardi tried to milk another inning out of him and ended up blowing the game (and probably the series for the Yankees).

Sometimes it’s difficult for a manager to see what is obvious to the rest of us. It was obvious that Sabathia was done after that stressful fifth inning. Jon Smoltz and Ron Darling, two fantastic starting pitchers in their day, were calling the game for TBS and understood immediately that Sabathia was running on fumes. They were both noticeably surprised that Sabathia went to the mound in the 6th inning, even if they didn’t immediately say so. It wasn’t a second guess on their part. It was a first guess because they saw what Girardi could not.

I imagine that Girardi went to bed praying that a guy he hasn’t been able to rely on all year is going to give him the kind of start he needs in this do-or-die situation. If it doesn’t happen, Girardi better prepare himself for a long offseason of endless questions and he better not get snippy because they are legitimate questions. If the Yankees’ season ends tonight, Girardi is going to have to take a lot of the heat for a too-quick exit from the playoffs.

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