He’s well prepared, he’s insightful, he knows how to manage a bullpen, and has won in New York City.
He can manage my baseball team any day of the week. That said, Friday night in Game 2 of the ALDS was without question his darkest hour as Yankee skipper.
The Yankees squandered a five-run lead, and Girardi inexplicably did not challenge a foul tip that would have resulted in strike three and silenced the Indians four-run 6th inning, which allowed them to get right back into the game.
The lack of a challenge combined with a few other bullpen moves had fans in a frenzy leading up to Game 3 on Sunday night.
His explanation regarding the pitchers rhythm in defense of the lack of a challenge did not do the Yankee manager any favors.
The Joe Girardi hater was out in full force. “He’s too robotic.” “He has no feel for the game.” “The players don’t play for him.”
Let’s just say I heard a few of those criticisms throughout my show early Sunday morning on WFAN.
On Friday, those first two arguments had some validity. More often than not, they do not.
Although I never, in my years of watching the Yankees, believed for a minute that Joe Girardi has ever lost his team, I certainly wondered heading into Game 3 exactly what Yankee team would show up facing elimination.
The team had lost in Game 2 in the most gut-wrenching way imaginable, and now faced the prospect of having to defeat an Indians team three games in a row, the same Indians team that hasn’t lost three games in a row in about ten weeks.
It would’ve been very easy for the Yankee team to say “it’s not meant to be” and fold up the tent and look ahead to 2018.
Not this Yankee group.
Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino delivered back-to-back gems. Greg Bird, Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge delivered big hits, and the Yankees defended their home turf in front of the most raucous crowds the new Yankee Stadium has ever seen.
The Yankees rallied together, played winning baseball against a team that set an American League record for consecutive wins with 22, and found a way to force a “winner-take-all” Game 5 in Cleveland.
The notion that the Yankees wouldn’t play for Joe Girardi is total nonsense. The team rallied behind their manager and played an inspired brand of baseball.
They deserve to be underdogs in Game 5. The Indians will throw out the best pitcher in the American League in Corey Kluber.
The Indians made it to Game 7 of the World Series last year, and are Vegas favorites to win it all this year.
That said, the pressure is on them, not the Yankees.
Girardi’s group has shown resiliency and guts all year, and with a win on Wednesday night they can erase his Game 2 blemish forever with a comeback that will be remembered in this town for a very long time.
Will the feel good ride continue?
You can listen to me on WFAN Sports Radio 660/1019 FM right after Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday from 2 to 5:40 a.m. & Sunday from 2-6 a.m. JJ’s Week 6 NFL Unlocks
(12-13 on the year)
• Houston -9.5
• Atlanta -11
• New England -9.5
• Pittsburgh +4
• NY Giants +12