Mark Melancon Keeps with THIS Joe’s Program

It was one of the few complaints* regarding the New York Yankee managerial reign of Joe Torre. He did not condone the Yankee pitchers protecting their hitters by pitching inside often enough to intimidate the Boston Red Sox hitters . 

* One other major complaint was that Torre did not properly manage his bullpen, often using guys time and time again, to the point of wearing out pitchers such as Scott Proctor, Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon and Luis Vizcaino. Girardi is much better in bullpen management than Torre was.

When the Boston Red Sox pitchers (and several other teams pitchers, too), went after the Yankee hitters, specifically Derek Jeter, Torre refused to retaliate. He always had high respect for Red Sox manager Terry Francona and this respect likely had something to do with it. Torre played with Francona’s father, Tito, for two seasons in the late 1960’s with the Atlanta Braves.

This lack of “protection” infuriated Yankee fans, especially when the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the post season. It seemed like Derek Jeter was getting plunked all the time by Red Sox hurlers. And nobody on the Yankee staff was knocking down Manny or Big Papi.

This trend changed last year when Joe (The other Joe) Girardi became the Yankees new manager. Not having those close ties with Francona, Girardi was proactive in his message to the Red Sox, Francona and the rest of baseball.

The Yankees will protect their hitters by pitching inside and knocking hitters off the plate.

It started last season when Joba Chamberlain repeatedly threw over the head and inside to Kevin Youkilis. It made Youkilis mad, but enlivened Yankee fans to the new regime Girardi was creating.

Last night Dustin Pedroia was “dusted” when Mark Melancon threw one high and in, then ending up plunking Pedroia on the shoulder later in the same at bat.

Another message sent to two guys who will likely be the #2 and 3 hitters in the Red Sox order for the next several years. Who is next? Jacoby Ellsbury?

That wouldn’t be a problem with me.

It wouldn’t be a problem for many other Yankee fans either, who seem to embrace General Joe a little more in his second season at the helm of their team. Last season was a difficult one for Girardi, with lots of Yankee fans (and media) not liking many of the things he did, like lying about injuries and general indifference.

Last season, Girardi was the anti-Torre in both being a calming presence in the clubhouse and making the playoffs.

Girardi is also different in a better way–protection of his lineup. And Yankee fans can’t complain about that.

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