Girardi takes blame for Game 2 decision
Manager didn’t challenge call in critical inning
NEW YORK — After a crushing loss, Yankees manager Joe Girardi spent the night pondering his decision not to challenge a critical hit-by-pitch call during a game-changing sixth inning. His verdict? “I screwed up.” Girardi took the blame Saturday after his call not to challenge possibly shifted the complexion of New York’s 9-8, 13-inning defeat in Game 2 of an AL Division Series against Cleveland.
“I take responsibility for everything,” Girardi said during a day off. “And I feel horrible about it.”
New York trails 2-0 in the best-of-five series. Game 3 is Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
With New York ahead 8-3 Friday, Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall was awarded first by plate umpire Dan Iassogna on an inside pitch by reliever Chad Green.
Catcher Gary Sanchez immediately asked Girardi to challenge, and slowmotion replays showed that the ball hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat. The question was whether it first grazed Chisenhall’s hand.
Plate umpires often rely on sound more than sight on such plays, making calls based on what they hear — as in, did a pitch nick the body, the bat or both?
To get the ruling reversed, an umpire in the replay room would’ve needed definitive proof the ball completely missed Chisenhall’s hand.
Sanchez caught the 0-2 pitch, which would have been an inning-ending third strike if ruled a foul tip.
Girardi relies on coaching assistant Brett Weber to scour replays before challenging. Weber didn’t see anything conclusive in the 30-second window allotted by Major League Baseball to request a review, and so Girardi disregarded Sanchez’s plea and didn’t challenge.
Weber and the Yankees didn’t get the slo-mo replay until Francisco Lindor was already at-bat. Lindor hit a grand slam off Green to make it 8-7, sparking a dramatic comeback by Cleveland.
New York led the major leagues by winning 72 percent of their challenges in the regular season. Girardi said Friday night that he didn’t want to waste one of his two challenges and that he didn’t want to disrupt Green’s rhythm. The Yankees had already won one earlier in the game.
But if he could do it over?
“Yeah, I wish I would have challenged it,” he said.
The 10th-year Yankees manager also stood by his bullpen management. Girardi pulled starter CC Sabathia after just 77 pitches to get to Green in the sixth inning, and Green gave up Lindor’s slam.
“I used the formula the other day. It worked,” Girardi said. “I used it yesterday, it didn’t work. That’s part of my job, right?”