When George Steinbrenner fired Joe Torre at the end of the disastrous ALDS against Detroit last fall, I wasn’t disappointed. Joe had a great run in New York, but his flaws had been out in the open for everyone to see since the 2004 ALCS. When he was unfired, I figured the Yanks could win despite Torre’s flaws.
Tonight’s game proved me wrong.
Let’s start at the end. With Brian Bruney working his second inning in the 11th, Torre let him pitch into trouble and toward a Yankee loss. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ best reliever, Mariano Rivera, never entered the game, never warmed up, never did anything. Bad decision number one.
Flashback to the 7th inning. Kyle Farnsworth, who had given up four runs in 0.2 innings one game ago, comes into the game, and, you guessed it, blows a one-run lead. Brian Bruney, who did pitch admirably in extra innings, was no where to be seen. Bad decision number two.
Bear with me as we jump ahead to the top of the 8th. First, Torre pinch runs for Jason Giambi. Had Giambi scored, he would have been insurance. Giambi – or pinch runner Kevin Thompson – never makes it around the bases, and the Yanks lose Giambi’s bat. Bad decision number three. Stop pinch running for your number five RBI guy in tie games. Just stop.
Same inning, Doug Mientkiewicz strides to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Mientkiewicz swings mightly and hits a dinky pop up just past the pitcher’s mound. A-Rod, who had to hold at third, is out at the plate by a mile. Dougie, whose terrible throw at the end of the game sealed the deal for the A’s, had hit into double plays in his previous two at bats. Josh Phelps sat on the bench. And sat. And sat. And sat. Bad decision number four.
So that’s it. Mientkiewicz went 0 for 5 and stranded seven runners. He was responsible for 7 of the Yankees’ 33 outs this evening. Is his average defense really making up the runs for this pitiful offensive performance? I don’t think so. Does Joe Torre even know that Josh Phelps is on this team? I don’t think so.
Meanwhile, as is his style, Torre left Rivera in the pen and Josh Phelps on the bench. So while Brian Bruney, who threw well but had to go to a third inning (!) took the loss, this one belongs on Torre’s shoulders. Huston Street gets the win; Torre the loss.