Move to the pen proves costly
A perfect example of how managerial moves are based on players’ execution was on view in the seventh inning Tuesday night. Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a pitching change that seemed to make a lot of sense at the time only to have it explode in his face.
Phil Hughes cruised through six innings and had a 3-1 lead with a relatively low pitch count. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Ryan Doumit and then lost Chris Parmelee to a walk in a 10-pitch at-bat in which Parmelee fouled off six pitches. Hughes didn’t appear gassed, however. He got an out on a popup before an infield single by Jamey Carroll loaded the bases. Hughes got a huge second out on a strikeout of Pedro Florimon on a high fastball.
This is when Girardi made his move to Boone Logan. Although Hughes was only at 99 pitches (like it or not, pitch count for starter plays into such moves), Girardi’s decision had merit. Logan is a lefthander, and the next four Minnesota batters were left-handed. This was as book a move as they come. It was also as disastrous a move as they come, which was because of Logan’s failure to execute pitches.
He got off to a bumpy start while pitching to Denard Span by throwing a wild pitch through the legs of catcher Russell Martin that scored Doumit to make it a one-run game with the other two runners advancing as well. Span worked the count full before lining a slider into right-center field for a two-run double that cost the Yankees the lead.
Logan continued to struggle against the lefty hitters as Ben Revere walked and Joe Mauer singled for his third hit to score Span for an insurance run that proved necessary when the Yankees scored in the ninth on a pinch home run by Andruw Jones.
The 5-4 loss was a tough one for the Yankees and an excruciating one for Hughes, who instead of improving his record to 17-12 fell to 16-13 and lost the chance to equal his career high in victories of 2010 when he was 18-8. If nothing else, though, Hughes probably cemented his position in the Yankees’ postseason rotation, assuming they get there, of course.
That would have been more of a cinch had the Yankees won Tuesday night. The Orioles had lost at home to the Blue Jays. A Yankees victory would have pushed Baltimore 2 ½ games away (and three in the loss column) in the American League East, but they had to satisfy for another calendar date turnover.
It was a disappointing turnaround for the Yankees, who used the long ball once again with a two-run home run by Nick Swisher and a solo by Martin. Jones’ 14th home run of the season was his first in 49 at-bats since Aug. 16. The Yankees continued to find Target Field to their liking with 17 home runs in nine games there over the past three seasons.
Swisher is heating up at a good time with an eight-game hitting streak in which he has 11-for-30 (.367) with four home runs and 11 RBI. Another good sign was Robinson Cano reaching base four times on three singles and a walk after coming into the game with three hits in his previous 25 at-bats, a .120 stretch.
Derek Jeter had 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, matching the third longest of his career. The other was in 2007, the same year that he also had a 20-game streak. The longest streak of DJ’s career was a 25-gamer in 2006, the year he finished second to Twins first baseman Justin Morneau for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.