CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said that when Lonnie Chisenhall was sent to first base to load the bases in the 6th inning on Friday, he was thinking about his pitcher.
He was not sure that Chisenhall had been hit by David Robertson’s fastball inside, but he was not sure that Chisenhall had not.
“Probably being a catcher, my thought is I never want to break a pitcher’s rhythm,” Girardi said. “That’s how I think about it. So if it’s not something — there was nothing that said he was not hit.”
Chisenhall all but admitted he was not hit.
“You know, I haven’t seen a replay or anything,” he said. “You just go with what the umpire says. You feel some vibrations down there in your hand and you go down to first base, let the replay take care of itself.”
During the Yankees’ 30 seconds to determine whether or not they wanted to challenge the ruling, Girardi maintained his dugout had not seen the ‘super slo-mo’ angle that showed the pitch hitting the knob of Chisenhall’s bat.
“You’re at the mercy of the telecast, what replays you get,” the manager added.
As it turns out, the former catcher had an angle that was not on replay, that from his own catcher Gary Sanchez. Despite his struggles to block the ball in Game 1 of the series, Sanchez made an appeal to his manager to challenge the call.
Girardi did not listen, setting in motion a series of events that caused his team to fall to 0-2 and force three straight elimination games in they were to win.
There is something to be said for saving a challenge when there are two outs and a lead it would take more than a grand slam to surrender, but the reality is that Girardi had TWO challenges at his disposal. It is likely that another challengeable moment would happen for the Yankees, but there are not many moments fathomable that would have been more important than proactively halting a grand slam.
Maybe it was the comfort of having gone from a do-or-die Wild Card game to a series with more of a cushion, but all of the signs were available to Girardi, just not a clear answer.
Thus is the entire point of appointing a manager: someone trusted to make the tough calls when there is not a clear answer.
He may already be saved by the notion that his Baby Bombers arrived in the ALDS at least a year ahead of schedule, but in New York, this might be an irredeemable mistake. As far as this particular season, it is.
The Yankees’ only opportunity to advance now lies within beating Carlos Carrasco on the road, Trevor Bauer round 2, and a second chance from Corey Kluber at home, all consecutively. All when you had the chance to snuff out any momentum for the best team in the American League by using a disposable review.
Sure, there were plenty of reasons why the Yankees lost the game outside of the review. Todd Frazier made two poor plays at third base, Aroldis Chapman made an inexcusable throw that wound up negated, and Ronald Torreyes disobeyed the top rule of playing the Indians: don’t stray on Yan.
Still yet, none of it would have matters had Girardi done his job.