At the end of the 6th inning during Sunday’s painfully long loss to the Devil Rays, Andy Pettitte had topped the 100-pitch mark. His 103rd pitch of the day resulted in an inning-ended force-out off the bat of Josh Wilson. At that point, the score stood at 2-1, and there was no way Joe Torre would let Andy Pettitte come back for the 7th. Right?
Well, not quite. Joe Torre sent Andy Pettitte to the mound, inexplicably, in the 7th. Before the start of that ill-fated inning, six of the last 10 batters to face Pettitte had reached base, and only a great throw by Johnny Damon had kept the game close. So with a very well-rested Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen, Torre opted to have Pettitte throw 16 more pitches.
Following an eight-pitch strike out of Akinori Iwaumura and a two-pitch single off the bat of Carl Crawford, I announced to Emma that Carlos Peña was due for a home run. So instead of going with a well-rested right-handed strike out artist, sleeping Joe left Andy Pettitte in. Peña obliged my prediction by crushing a ball about 700 feet over the right field wall. Finally, Joe came out of the dugout, but it was too little too.
Two innings later, he left the one-inning Edwar Ramirez in for a few batters too many, and by the time we looked up, much of the 54,000 fans at Yankee Stadium had left because the score was 8-2. Ouch.
Now, I know we dump on Joe Torre a lot, but why in the name of Phil Rizzuto would you have Andy Pettitte throw 119 pitches in a 2-1 game when he hadn’t been particularly effective since striking out the side in the 4th inning? Why not use your bullpen? Why not employ the ace-in-the-hole?
Earlier in the day, Joe Torre opined to the New York media that he wanted to return to manage the Yanks next season. With the team getting younger, I can’t think of a worse idea right now. Torre’s inept pitching management killed the team today. Who knows what it will do to the likes of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and others who may come up through the system? We need a manager that knows what to do in a 2-1 game against the Devil Rays. Joe today proved that he isn’t necessarily the right one for the job. And it cost the Yanks a chance to widen their Wild Card lead on the eve of a series against the Mariners.