Less than a day after writing a post absolving Joe Girardi of any wrongdoing in the Yankees' 8-7 win, last night came another tough one-run loss featuring a handful of moves -- or really, non-moves -- by Girardi that were questionable.
This time the primary issue revolved around pinch-hitting, or the lack thereof. In the eighth, Girardi elected to pinch-hit for Lance Berkman, who would've been forced to turn around and bat from his far inferior right side, for Marcus Thames. As bad as Berkman is from the right side (.247 wOBA), and as unexpectedly good as Thames has been against righties (.398 wOBA), lifting Berkman in this situation made zero sense considering that the utterly useless Austin Kearns and Colin Curtis -- who, as noted in the recap, combined to go 3-21 against Tampa, including 1-8 last night with five stranded baserunners (and in reality it was actually 10 when you add up their cumulative stranded baserunner total) -- would each be coming to the plate one hitter later.
Given the non-performances of Kearns (.250 wOBA) and Curtis (.058 wOBA) in September, quite simply Joe has to save Thames for Kearns, and if Curtis' turn to bat still came up, you have to pinch-hit Juan Miranda there. You have to. I don't care if it compromises the defense somewhat -- put Greg Golson in right, who's actually something of an asset in the field, and Ramiro Pena in left if you have to.
I know it seems crazy to keep harping on the Yankees' 8-9 lineup slots -- I'm sure fans of opposing teams would say "well, you shouldn't have to rely on those batters in the first place when you have guys like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez et. al. in your lineup" -- but the fact is Kearns and Curtis kept coming up in key situations because the Yankees' big bats did get on base, and the duo doublehandedly slaughtered several Yankee rallies. Bottom line, neither should have been allowed to bat for themselves in the eighth inning trailing by one.
Bronx Baseball Daily notes via LoHud that one more September call-up could be on the way, but unfortunately it's looking like a pitcher. Then again, it's not like the Yankees have any productive bats stashed in Scranton at the moment, so I suppose a new pitcher is better than nothing, especially given how the Yankees have been bullpened to death by September's expanded rosters.
Oh, and I'd also like to add something for the nervous nellies out there: If the Yankees can't keep the Red Sox at bay with a six-game lead and 16 games left, then quite frankly they don't deserve a postseason berth. I know the Yankees have been playing like garbage, but we're talking a pretty epic, New York Metropolitans-style collapse here. Not saying it's impossible, since we've seen it happen before, but if it somehow were to happen, then the Yankees clearly shouldn't even be in the postseason field.