Gi­rardi takes blame for Game 2 de­ci­sion

Man­ager didn’t chal­lenge call in crit­i­cal in­ning

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - COMMENTARY - By Jake Seiner

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?”

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