On Monday, manager Joe Girardi was deemed the absolute worst manager in baseball. You just have to love the media (especially its New York manifestation). The guy wins more games than any other manager in the 2009 MLB season, sweeps the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins in ALDS, takes the first two games from the Anaheim Angels in the ALCS, and yet all those accomplishments are seemingly wiped away by Monday's egregious example of micro-management or over-management or bad management that apparently led directly to the Yankees' loss.
Yes, apparently the New York Yankees were defeated in Game 3 simply because Joe Girardi changed pitchers too many times, relieving an effective Dave Robertson for Alfredo Aceves who subsequently lost the game. When the Yankees used 7 relievers to beat the Angels in Game 2 this wasn't an issue but now all of a sudden the Yankees' skipper is singlehandedly losing games for his team with his personnel decisions.
And then came Tuesday and another crucial move. This time Yankees ace CC Sabathia would start on… gasp… short rest! Surely such an incompetent manager who can destroy his team’s chance for victory with a mere call to the bullpen had made another critical error. Pitchers just don't start on short rest anymore. Doesn't he know about pitch counts, bullpen sessions, and four- or five-man rotations? Who does this guy think he is, John McGraw?
On Tuesday the "goat" of Game 3 suddenly reverted back into the same manager who led his team to 103 victories this regular season. The same guy who absolutely laid to waste the Minnesota Twins and their monstrosity of a stadium. Joe Girardi, that nutty baseball professor, the ruin of his team's fortunes, took the chance of starting his ace on 3 days rest… and all his ace did was absolutely dominate the opposition.
Sabathia owned the Twins in every sense of the word in Game 4, giving up only one run on five hits in eight innings. He struck out five, walked two, and was visibly in control of the game from the start to his eighth inning exit. His fastball was topping out around 95 (good for a healthy Sabathia) and his slider was ruthless, ripping through the strike zone and dropping violently off the plate making it nearly unhittable.
Many managers with a guy the caliber of Joba Chamberlain on their staff (I'm not saying he's an All Star but his season stats show he is a good, solid fourth starter) would not risk the potential embarrassment of the failure involved in starting a guy on "short rest" and that pitcher not being successful (in this case tying the series at two games a piece). But Girardi used his knowledge of the game, his intuition, and his general intelligence (a Northwestern grad), and now
"Mr. Micro-Management" has his team in a prime position to put the Angels away once and for all and head on to the World Series.
Overall the game was never in doubt, with the Yankees putting up 10 runs on dingers by A-Rod (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) and Johnny Damon (1-for-5, 2 RBIs), and good days by Melky Cabrera (3-for-4, 4 RBIs) and Derek Jeter (2-for-5).
With an off day on Wednesday, AJ Burnett will resume the series in Anaheim on regular rest, giving the Yankees a very good chance to end the ALCS before returning to New York. The Angels are a well put together, fundamentally sound team but Joe Girardi's decision to throw Sabathia on three days rest, making him available for an improbable Game 7 (if necessary), has altered the balance of the series back into the Yankees' favor, even after the game he "blew" on Monday.