Random Thoughts on Tigers-Yankees Game 5

by Jason Epstein

I don’t understand elements of Joe Girardi’s bullpen strategy. Ivan Nova, who was pulled after two innings, apparently had an issue with his forearm — but what was wrong with Phil Hughes? Why remove him after throwing only 21 pitches and later lift an unhittable David Robertson after only 13? Did someone remind Girardi that the September call-ups were ineligible to pitch if the game had gone into extra innings? (Yes, I know that the bullpen gave up only one run in seven innings, but a positive outcome does not justify a poor process.)

Speaking of pitching changes, why did Jim Leyland feel the need to yank Max Scherzer after he gave up an infield single to Derek Jeter?

Didn’t Yankee Stadium sound like a morgue in the top of the seventh inning, even though the Yankees were down only two runs at the time? For example, after Rafael Soriano had struck out Austin Jackson for the first out, only a few cheers could be heard on the telecast.

Dennis the Pimple made a cameo, appearing on Joaquin Benoit’s cheek in the bottom of the seventh.

Must a sizable segment of the Yankee fan base boo a banged-up Alex Rodriguez after every strikeout? Would they have been happier if he had flown out to the right field warning track to end the season? (It’s the same with Met fans who never forgave Carlos Beltran for getting frozen on one of Adam Wainwright’s nasty curve balls on the final pitch of the 2006 NLCS.) Wasn’t A-Rod’s 2009 postseason rampage (1.308 OPS) supposed to end such nonsense? (EDIT: A-Rod bashers also should keep this in mind. And this.)

The bottom line: When a team racks up ten hits and three walks, they usually score more than two runs. With all due respect to Detroit’s pitching, that the Yankee lineup failed to push another run or two across in the deciding game of a best-of-five series was bad luck, plain and simple.

Congrats to the Tigers; condolences to the Yankees.