Andy Pettitte did not question Joe Girardi’s decision to call in the relievers this afternoon.
“You can’t second guess going to our bullpen,” Pettitte said. “They’ve just been so great. We’ve got the best bullpen in the league as far as I’m concerned. It just wasn’t a good day for them. But nobody in here — not me, and I’m sure not our manager — is going to lose faith in those guys out there.”
But Pettitte also did not mask the frustration of watching this perfectly winable game slip away.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “It was like pulling teeth sitting there, especially seeing them put up that big a number.”
Afters six shutout innings, Pettitte allowed back-to-back singles in the seventh and had Matt Wieters — who’d struck out twice already — coming to the plate when Girardi called for Shawn Kelley. Despite the game’s best strand rate, Kelley needed just four pitches to give up the lead.
Four things to consider about the decision to go to Kelley in that situation…
1. Pettitte was at 93 pitches. In the past two months, he’s never thrown more than 102 pitches. “Andy’s not a guy that we really let go over 100 pitches,” Girardi said. “He’s not, because we feel that’s his limit.”
2. Pettitte admitted he was fatigued. “It was awfully hot,” he said. “Temperature might not have said it, but it was very muggy out there. At this stage, I get a little tired later in games.”
3. This is Chris Stewart’s evaluation of Pettitte in the seventh: “I just think he got a little tired, and he started missing over the plate a lot. They were fouling balls off, and those balls were missing their spots over the plate.”
4. Wieters has horrible career numbers off Pettitte, but in his career — and this season in particular — he’s much better against lefties than against righties.
As good as Kelley’s been, there was obvious logic in a decision that didn’t work out, at all. Kelley’s job is to get out of that inning, and he didn’t do his job. The Yankees lost the lead right then and there, and a series sweep was out the window.
“I know when Andy or CC is on the hill, with them being left-handed, I’m usually the first one to get the call,” Kelley said. “It wasn’t a matter of expecting it or not expecting it. I was ready. … It’s tough, obviously. Three-run run lead going iinto the seventh, chance for a sweep against the team we’re right there neck and neck with. It’s a tough one to swallow, and it’s completely on me for those pitches right there.”
• Far easier to question the decision to bring in Joba Chamberlain after Boone Logan put two runners on base. It’s been a while since Chamberlain pitched in a real leverage situation in a winable game, so why bring him in today? “The inning didn’t work out the way we want because we used Kelley, and the outs that we thought he would get, he didn’t get,” Girardi said. “And then Boone didn’t get the outs we thought he would get. So we had to make some changes.”
• Chamberlain actually had been better recently, but it’s hard to think he would have been the go-to choice in that situation had Preston Claiborne been on the roster. Girardi said he didn’t want to use Dave Robertson because it would have meant giving him six outs if he were going to form a bridge to the ninth. “I’ve done everything,” Chamberlain said. “So there’s nothing they can put me on the field in that I haven’t been in. It’s just execution of the pitch. that’s the one pitch I made a mistake on and they made me pay for it.”
• Why three straight sliders to Adam Jones? “We needed a double play right there,” Chamberlain said. “I threw him the sliders and just — as aggressive as Adam is — if I threw it in a good spot and hopefully get him to roll over and get us out of that inning, and keep us within one run. That was the thought process.”
• Interestingly, this was Stewart’s take on three straight sliders: “I wanted to throw another fastball just to get them off there, but Joba felt confident in the slider and unfortunately, all three of them weren’t really good sliders. He just didn’t have it coming out of the bullpen, and he left one hanging and he hit a homer on it.”
• The argument against putting much emphasis on the Chamberlain decision: It’s not like the Yankees offense mounted any sort of comeback, anyway. Obviously you wonder how things might have changed if it were a one-run game, but the Yankees went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners stranded. “We had a chance at times to tack on some runs and get some more runs, we just weren’t able to do it today,” Girardi said.
• Stewart on the Hardy go-ahead homer: “Hardy’s got power and he’s got a lot of home runs, but that was definitely a Yankee Stadium home run today. It’s unfortunate that ball left. A foot further in the field, we’re talking sac fly, runner on first and the next guy could hit a groundball double play and we’re still winning. Unfortunately, just far enough to be a home run and they took the lead on it.”
• Did Curtis Granderson have a chance to catch that home run at the wall? “I got to it,” he said. Does that mean it should have been caught? “Not necessarily,” Granderson said. “Anything that hits the top of the wall you can’t say is a guaranteed ball you’re supposed to catch. You try to get there, and everything’s got to be timed up perfect, and there was something off one way or the other. I couldn’t really tell (what) exactly from the angles checking the replay, but I ended up missing it.”
• Is it just me, or did Derek Jeter’s at-bats look pretty bad today? He did lift a sacrifice fly that moved him ahead of Bernie Williams for sixth place on the Yankees all-time RBI list with 1,258.
• Final word goes to Girardi: “It’s tough when you’re up 3-0 in the sixth. We’re playing a team that, for the last two years, we’re basically even (against them) and the games have been very close. You talk about winning series, but when you win the first two and you have 3-0, you get greedy, and that’s the hard part.”
• Or should the final word go to Logan? “It’s like we feed off each other (in the bullpen),” he said. “It seems like when someone does good, we all do good. When someone sucks, we all suck. It’s just one of those days where everyone had their bad game all in one game.”
• Or maybe give the final word to Pettitte: “You hate that, because you feel like we were right there, late in the ballgame with a lead, and we usually win those games. But it just didn’t happen. … Ain’t no use in sitting here crying about it. We didn’t win. We played well. We won the series. We can’t worry about everybody else. We’ve got to focus on playing good baseball. If we do that, I think we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the season. If we don’t play well, we’ll run ourselves out of this.”
Associated Press photos