Facing elimination, Joe Girardi said he’s prepared to manage today’s game much differently than any game we’ve seen this season. He might have a quick hook if he sees CC Sabathia heading toward a repeat of Game 1, and he’s willing to go with Mariano Rivera and Kerry Wood in earlier innings — and for more innings — than usual.
“I don’t think you can hesitate to make a move,” Girardi said. “If you have to use Woody and Mo somewhat unconventionally today, you’ve got to do it.”
Girardi went so far as to say Phil Hughes is available out of the bullpen today. That’s more of a last resort, obviously, but Hughes threw a bullpen yesterday and could give the Yankees an inning out of the pen. The only pitchers not available are A.J. Burnett, who pitched last night, and Andy Pettitte, who Girardi doesn’t want to use because of his pitch count on Monday.
The Yankees had no choice but to go with an unconventional lineup. Without Mark Teixeira — Eduardo Nunez has arrived, by the way — the Yankees went with Lance Berkman at first base, even against a left-handed starter. Girardi said he only briefly considered starting Nick Swisher at first base, putting Austin Kearns in right field and leaving Berkman on the bench.
“Swish hasn’t played a lot of first,” Girardi said. “Berk is used to playing first. You’re talking about taking a guy and putting him out of position… I know (Berkman) hasn’t swung the bat necessarily off lefties this year, but look at his at-bat last night. He hit a bullet.”
When Teixeira missed two games against the Rangers earlier this season, Girardi went with Marcus Thames in the No. 3 spot and left Robinson Cano at No. 5. Girardi said he never really considered doing the same this time. This is not simply a brief lineup disruption like it was while Teixeira’s wife was having a baby. This is the new lineup.
“Robbie, no matter where we’ve hit him, he’s hit,” Girardi said. “He’s produced, (and) we can get Robbie more at-bats this way.”