On the west coast road trip to Oakland and Seattle which saw the Yankees go 6-1, could have possibly been 7-0. Then the Yankees would have a three game lead over Tampa Bay instead of just a two game lead.
But in a great pitching matchup between the New York Yankees Javier Vazquez and the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, Girardi pulled his usual stunt.
The game was 1-0 Yankees and Vazquez had a NO-HITTER through the first 5.2 innings, finally allowing an infield single to Ichiro. At one point Vazquez retired 15 straight batters. He loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, but got out of his only jam by retiring Milton Bradley.
Then with a three-hit shutout going, Girardi removes Vazquez after seven innings. “You did your job Javy,” Girardi likely told the 34-year-old, 13-year veteran.
Are you kidding me? Did his job? What job was that? Getting pulled from a great pitchers duel because the manager has no concept of how to manage a pitching staff?
Vazquez was pulled because his pitch count (here we go again!) was at 117. So lets leave the balance of the game in the hands of Joba Chamberlain, a pitcher who has struggled mightily with his control, command and concentration.
And Joba did not disappoint by loading the bases very quickly and allowing a home run on a pitch way up in the zone, and even further away from his targeted location.
So why not leave Vazquez in? It’s his game. He had been outdueling the great King Felix all night.
Because Vazquez was at 117 pitches and Joba is the Yankees 8th inning guy.
The real reason is that Girardi is playing the games based upon the “new book,” the one which states you must bring in your setup, 8th (or 7th) inning guy if your starter is over 100 pitches. No matter what the situation, no matter what the score, no matter how effective your starting pitcher is doing.
That is similar to the prevent defense in football. When your team has a decent lead in the fourth quarter, you play a soft defense allowing the other team to gain yardage, but not to hit the big play.
What the prevent defense usually does in football is prevent a win in the game for the preventing team.
Vazquez needs to be in that game for the 8th inning, pitching until he is no longer effective. It is his game, not Joba’s, and if there is a thought that the pitch count was too high, than baseball has just about stopped being a man’s game.
I thought the pitch count fiasco was only for younger pitchers who have not yet built up their arms to the rigors of professional baseball?
Why are we then worried about Javier’s pitch count? He is a 13-year veteran who has not ever been injured. Vazquez was even rumored to be traded during that series against Seattle, and probably will not even be a Yankee next year!
And even after seven innings and 117 pitches, right now Vazquez is a much better pitcher than Joba Chamberlain and anyone else in that bullpen not named Mariano.
That loss at Seattle was not a Joba problem or a bullpen problem. It is a Joe Girardi problem.
Pitch counts should not be a reason to bring in a new guy, but Girardi abides by the new book. Hell, my son threw five innings the other day, and the threw 200 pitches of wiffle ball later on that same day. And his arm is still attached.
After the grand slam and the Yankees were behind 4-1, the 24-year-old, six-year veteran King Felix went back out on the mound and shut down the Yankees in 9th inning, throwing a total of 126 pitches. It was his fourth complete game in his last five starts.
Hernandez did not need anybody to finish his game.