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Losing two out of three to the Sox in April doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Last year, the Sox owned the Yanks early, then the tables turned later in the season. In effect, these were merely three games out of 162. I can live with the two losses, I won't lose sleep.

What I cannot live with is a manager costing his team games. Yesterday was the first loss I think you can put directly on Joe Girardi's shoulders. Three horrendous mistakes in one inning (not having the pen warming to start the inning, letting Mussina pitch to Ortiz and then letting Mussina pitch to Ramirez with first base open and Youkilis on deck). It's difficult to lay tonight's game directly on Joe, but there were some seriously questionable moves made. Ponderous decisions.
  1. Johnny Damon starting in center field. I realize Damon has good numbers against Dice K, but he's been in a terrible slump all year long and Melky has actually been swinging a productive bat recently. Melky's defense, especially his arm, should've been the trump card here. As I said before, Damon in center cost the Yanks anywhere from 1 to 3 runs tonight.
  2. The top of the 8th fiasco, which we need to break down into several small moves:
    1. Pinch-running Betemit for Molina. Molina was not the tying run in that situation. Yes, it's nice to get a little more speed on the base paths, but not at that cost. This move started an avalanche of moves that Girardi should've seen coming.
    2. The Johnny Damon at bat. One of two decisions to make here, either you send Ensberg up to hit for Damon (why is Ensberg on the team if not to hit for Damon against a lefty in that situation), or Damon bunts. One or the other. There is absolutely no way Damon should've been swinging away, against a lefty, in that situation. Especially considering the fact that it was a given that Melky was going to play center in the following half inning and Damon's spot was going to be taken up by the pitcher.
    3. Sending Jorge Posada out to catch with instructions not to attempt a throw to second on a stolen base is the highest form of idiocy. If he can't make the throw to second, then you cannot send him out there. This is what emergency catchers are for. Or, if you're loathe to use the emergency catcher then you don't pinch run for Molina. Either or.
  3. The bottom of the 8th fiasco. Let's forget forget about the Molina/Betemit snafu. Girardi dug his hole in the top of the inning. Now he had a two-run deficit he desperately had to keep right there. Who does he call on? Kyle Farnsworth. He knows he has a catcher out there who can't/isn't allowed to attempt to stop a would-be base stealer. He knows he needs a clean inning. He has Joba Chamberlain at his disposal, with more than enough rest. He elects to bring Farnsworth in. I can't begin to think of a reason for it. We all know what happened from there on out.
It's easy to look at this game, see 7 runs on the board for Boston in the first three innings and think to yourself that the manager didn't have a whole lot to do with the outcome. You may be right, but in a game like this a manager has to do everything he can to put his team in a position to come back. Once the game is within reach again, you go for the win. Girardi's string of highly questionable moves probably didn't cost the team the game, Phil Hughes did that, but they sure made it harder to complete the comeback. In fact, they made it impossible.

I'm not going to write Girardi off. To do so this early would be moronic. I will say, however, that it sure seems like Girardi is playing an awful lot of hunches to this point. That's the only explanation I can come up with for some of these moves, because they make absolutely no sense. He was a catcher, he knows the game. It's time to start managing like it, not like a guy who doesn't want to get guys he played with/against angry at him. Nothing is more dangerous for a manager than the benefit of the doubt. Make the smart moves, not the emotional moves.

One last word on the 8th inning. Melky made a horrible baserunning decision and it probably cost the Yanks a run. When he was on first and Damon hit the bouncer to second he needs to avoid the tag. Stop dead in your tracks. Lie down on the ground, do whatever you have to do. If Pedroia doesn't tag him, there is no double play and the Yanks can still get a run without a hit. He ran right into it, effectively killing the rally.

Player of The Game: Ross Ohlendorf, 3 innings of scoreless relief.
Team Record: 6-7
Damon's Broken Bats: 2 tonight, 9 on the season in 12 games (The black bat finally met its end, shattering into 100 pieces on a foul ball, in his next at bat he split one in two on the double-play ball)

UPDATE: Peter Abraham is reporting that Molina strained his hamstring in the 4th inning and that's the reason Girardi pinch ran for him in the 8th. He also confirmed that Posada was told not to make any throws to second in the bottom of the 8th and Posada will not be ready to catch tomorrow. Does this mitigate the string of bad decisions? Not for me. How much slower could the hammy injury have possibly made Molina? He was able to play 4 innings with it, you leave him out there in that situation. Oh, and if you're backup catcher isn't able to throw the ball to second, then you really don't have a backup catcher.
by Brian on Apr 14 2008
Tags: Joe Girardi | Red Sox | Ross Ohlendorf |