The Yankees let a victory slip away when an ill-advised slide by Nick Swisher allowed the Twins to tie the game in the eighth, but the real slip up was committed by Joe Girardi before the inning even started.
For most of the game, the Yankees seemed on their way to an easy 4-0 victory. After being staked to an early lead on another three-run home run by Mark Teixeira as well as a solo blast by Andruw Jones in his first Yankee at bat, CC Sabathia cruised through the Twins lineup until he was inexplicably lifted before the eighth inning. At the time of his departure, the Yankees’ ace lefty had retired the last 15 batters faced and thrown only 104 pitches, but Joe Girardi opted to go to the bullpen anyway.
In his first two outings, Rafael Soriano has looked every bit the lock down setup man the Yankees inked to a lucrative three-year deal. From the first pitch in yesterday’s game, however, something didn’t seem right. Normally pinpoint with his control, Soriano struggled to command the strike zone. In two-thirds of an inning, the right hander walked three batters, including Joe Mauer with the bases loaded.
Girardi eventually lifted Soriano in favor of David Robertson, who was unfairly tagged with a blown save when Delmon Young’s shallow fly ball squirted past Swisher and cleared the bases. Had Swisher played the ball correctly, Robertson would have had the chance to escape the jam with a 4-3 lead, but instead the overzealous attempt gave the Twins a second chance. Since Ron Gardenhire has been manager, the Twins have usually been the ones giving games back to the Yankees, but this time his team closed the deal by scoring the winning run against Boone Logan in the tenth.
Relief pitching has been touted as one of the Yankees’ strengths, an expectation that will undoubtedly prove to be true by the end of the season. However, when C.C. Sabathia is wheeling and dealing, the bullpen should be an afterthought. By ignoring this rule of thumb, Girardi not only helped turn a victory into defeat, but also burned through his entire bullpen. Now the question becomes who will be available tonight when Freddy Garcia makes his first start of the season?
Sabathia’s Scoreless Games of Seven Innings or More as a Yankee