Yankees manage to grab defeat from jaws of victory in second game against Twins

Inside the changes to the Great City Subway Race
Bullpen management extends beyond one game (or, DMORM)

Bullpens blow games, even the best ones. It’s an unavoidable evil over the course of a 162-game season. If a reliever doesn’t have his best stuff and/or gets hit around a bit, fine it happens. But when the process is wrong, well then I have an issue. The Yankees were cruising for the first seven innings against the Twins on Tuesday, riding a pair of homers to for a four-run lead with their ace on the mound. Three innings later, they walked off the field losers.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Let’s talk about the bullpen (usage)

We all know what happened. Staked to a four-run lead in the eighth inning, Joe Girardi handed the ball off to Rafael Soriano for reasons unknown. I mean, what part of having a lead that size that late in the game with the bottom of the order due up says “I need to use my $10M+ a year setup man who just pitched yesterday without his normal velocity right now?” Soriano allowed four of the six men he faced to reach base (three on walks), and then David Robertson allowed the tying runs to score on a well-placed bloop double. The bloop happens, I’m okay with that, but the usage of Soriano is a complete head-scratcher.

For whatever reason, Girardi didn’t have the confidence in Robertson to give him the ball to start the inning. In fact, he hasn’t shown much confidence in him at all this season. Robertson’s warmed up in all five games this year (twice in this one) but had only pitched once prior to this game. He wasn’t good enough to start the inning fresh, but he was then deemed worthy of being charged with wiggling out of the bases loaded jam later on. That’s great, that should be Robertson’s role because of his strikeout ability, but you don’t have to wait for those situations to use him.  Unsurprisingly, David’s control was shaky after so much unofficial work over the last few days and it cost them.

“Because he’s our eighth inning guy,” responded Girardi after the game when asked why he used Soriano in that spot. If it’s that simple, then what are they paying him for? A monkey can follow the cookbook. In the end, Soriano has to get those outs, back-to-back days isn’t above and beyond the call of duty. And to make matters worse, he ducked out early and didn’t speak to reporters after the game. If you’re not going to own up to it, there are going to be problems, especially when some of the other guys stood there and took the heat. Weak sauce, Rafi. Very weak sauce.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Anyway … yay Tex!

Long before the bullpen shenanigans, Mark Teixeira led a first inning offensive assault against Brian Duensing, launching a three-run homer to left after Derek Jeter walked and Nick Swisher singled. It was his fourth of the season and his first from the right side, and it came on a changeup of all things. We’re used to seeing Tex swing over top of those like it’s going out of style. Andruw Jones chipped in a solo homer one inning later, becoming the 13th Yankee since 1961 to homer in his first at-bat for the team. The last to do it? Curtis Granderson last season. Before that? How about Cody Ransom in 2008. Good times.

The 13 homers the Yankees have hit ties the franchise record for the most through the first five games of the season.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

CC = Carsten in Charge

It tells you something when a pitcher fires seven shutout innings and is visibly annoying with himself. That’s exactly what Sabathia did in this game, limiting the Twins to just two singles (in the same inning, no less) and one walk (in the first) all evening even though he was constantly shaking his head and talking to himself between pitches. He retired the last 17 Twins he faced, carving them up with a steady diet of fastballs (50 four-seamers and 19 sinkers) while mixing in the occasional slider (16), changeup (12), and curveball (seven). Minnesota batters swung-and-missed at five of those changeups, including for strike three twice. It was a vintage performance from the Yankees ace, but it’s a shame he couldn’t get a win out of it. A damn shame.

That about sums it up.


Four runs early, then nothing else the rest of the way. Duensing settled down and completed seven innings, allowing just two singles and a walk in his final five frames. Not for the nothing, the Yankees needed to tack some more on after scoring early runs like that. They can’t just push four across early and expect to coast to the finish like they did on Monday.

Tex and Jones were the clear offensive stars, though Jeter singled and walked (before striking out to end the game) and Swisher singled twice. The rest of the lineup combined to go 1-for-21 (Alex Rodriguez singled) with five strikeouts. That won’t get it done.

Boone Logan has faced eight batters this season and retired just three of them. Hurry back, Pedro. Chances are the only available relievers behind Freddy Garcia tomorrow night will be Joba Chamberlain, Luis Ayala, Bartolo Colon, and Logan. That’s comforting. I’m sure Robertson will warm up anyway.

Make it four straight nights with a new record low attendance at Yankee Stadium; the announced attendance was 40,267.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other neat stuff. Wheee!!!

Up Next

Garcia makes his long-awaited Yankees debut later tonight against someone New York tried to sign this offseason so they wouldn’t need a guy like Garcia: Carl Pavano. I hope he’s got seven innings in that arm.

Inside the changes to the Great City Subway Race
Bullpen management extends beyond one game (or, DMORM)
  • http://yankeeanalysts.com Moshe Mandel

    Regarding Robertson, Girardi said he was going to pitch the 9th, assuming it stayed 4-0. And that ostensibly would have been the top of the order, so I doubt it was a confidence issue. He likely just wanted to use Soriano tonight for some reason (back to back), which is why he went to Soriano in the 8th and D-Rob for the 9th. I thought the area for complaint was not in going to Sori to start the 8th, but in sticking with him for Mauer. He didn’t have it, and Mauer is too good a hitter to leave him in there against without good stuff.

    • Cult of Basebaal

      So what Joe is saying is that his plan was to have Robertson warm up in the 7th, sit down in the 8th and then warm up again for the 9th?

      WTF kind of thinking is that?

      Have Robertson start the 8th, with Soriano in reserve in case there was trouble and then either let Robertson pitch the 9th, if the 8th was quick (note to Coffee Joe, relievers *can* actually pitch more than 1 inning on occasion) or chose another reliever with Mo in reserve in case of trouble.

      • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

        That was exactly my thinking. Girardi worked backwards. Soriano should of been ready to bail out Robertson, not the other way around.

  • MikeRS

    I think Scott proctor is still available as of last week of we need some more depth

    • Brian in NH

      He re-signed with atlanta i believe

  • ZZ

    The issue is not really using Soriano for the eighth inning there. I would not have done it, but it is really not a big deal that Girardi did. The issue was leaving Soriano out there and really I am not just talking about leaving him out there for Mauer. That he got to Mauer was already too far. From the first pitch you could tell there was something seriously wrong with the way Soriano was throwing the ball. He was dropping his shoulder and kind of just pulling his arm.

    You just can’t throw a baseball like that to major league hitters and expect to get them out. Not only that, but it is very risky to do so. Throwing the ball like that is a serious red flag for an impending shoulder injury.

    Leaving Soriano in was not only a poor baseball decision but it was a fairly reckless one as well when it comes to Soriano’s health.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      It’s interesting that you point out his motion and the way he looked. I say this because I am not a student of the game in that regard. I usually have to have things pointed out to me of that nature before I see it.

      But last night on pitch 1 I was sort of like… uh oh that looks wrong somehow. Ugh.

      Well if he’s hurt and needs surgery I least we don’t have to worry about him opting out ;)

      • Pasqua

        Opting out is what we WANT him to do. Too much money for what he’ll likely deliver. I would think we want him healthy and dominant…and then leaving.

  • BigBlueAL

    Girardi set a new record tonight for fewest games needed to start the season to piss off the fans and blow a game with his bullpen usage. The previous record was 6 games set in the 2009 season in a game at Kansas City.

    In all seriousness biggest problem could be tomorrow night with both Mo and Soriano possibly not available (assume Soriano wont be for sure). Doesnt help that Freddy Garcia is starting. Also get well soon Feliciano because so far Logan has been pretty bad (SSS I know).

    • Ivan

      Well, at least the Yankees won the WS in 09 right, So I guess thats a new omen.

  • dkidd

    the twins were way overdue, but girardi made it harder to practice zen baseball

    hopefully garcia keeps them in the game tomorrow

  • Grinch

    No one complained when Girardi used Joba on Sunday and Monday. You can argue that he shouldn’t have used Joba on Monday given it was only a 1 run lead and given that Joba threw 21 pitches on Sunday, while the better rested Robertson was available. But no one object, let alone freaked out over the move.

    Lets be honest, if Soriano had retired the side on 9 pitches, people would have been just as silent tonight as they were last night.

  • http://twitter.com/tjamato T.J.

    I would have used D-Rob for the 8th with Logan waiting for Mauer.

    Sucks to lose like this but it happens. We’ll crush them by ten runs tomorrow night.

  • Greg C

    This whole “7th/8th inning guy” thing is ridiculous. There have to be some qualifications/conditions for that. There are 162 regular season games, and I hope the team plans on being ahead in the majority of them and at least competitive in most of the others. It’s not like 3 relievers are going to pitch 100+ games each.

    While Mo isn’t used in the situations that make the most sense leverage-wise, at least he has some sort of guidelines. He’s not going to be used winning or losing by 4 runs. It’s not like they throw him out there every game because he’s the “9th inning guy.”

    The other guys need to be used when the situation calls for it.

  • China Joe

    The sad irony is that Girardi surely thought he was going for the throat by bringing in Soriano…but then he got caught up in “he’s my eighth inning guy, gotta let him get out of the eighth” mode. Hell, he could have used Mo once Soriano got in trouble, just to get out of the eighth, then put in Joba or D-Rob in for the ninth with a comfortable 3-4 run lead. Why do so many baseball people at once over-manage and under-utilize their relievers?

    • Pasqua

      That’s a good point. I agree: it was a “finish them” maneuver to pitch Soriano, which quickly escalated into decision making that was more to do with not hurting Soriano’s “pride” than making a prudent pitching change.

  • Drew

    I was at the game tonight, it just boggles my mind the way the pen was used. I was sitting in the upperdeck and when I saw on the scoreboard that Soriano was warming up I literally started yelling. Let’s overuse our 35 million dollar setup man in April on a freezing night with a 4 run lead. I didn’t see the postagame but I am expecting Giradi said something like “well the binder said that I should…” Just a really frustrating loss overall and I feel bad for CC to pitch as brilliantly as he did and to come away without the win. On a happier note, I finally got a chance to try the deep fried Twinkies. They will absolutely blow your mind. $6 and you get two of them. Easily one of the better bargains in the stadium.

  • squishy jello person

    Once it became apparent Soriano had no control–like, say, bases loaded–go to Mo. That’s the entire point of the leverage argument

    • Will

      The first mistake was using Soriano in a situation where Robertson should have been used.

      The second mistake was leaving him in when he clearly had nothing.

      The third mistake, and the worst one, was finally deciding to replace Soriano only after the bases were loaded. Bringing in a new pitcher with the bases loaded (even with two outs) VERY rarely works out well–it was the worst predilection (among many) in Joe Torre’s use of the ‘pen, and unfortunately it’s the one that Girardi seems to have taken from his predecessor (although I do think that in general Girardi does a good job with the ‘pen).

    • Chris

      Bringing in Mo in a game on April 5th for a save of more than one inning doesn’t really sound like a good idea to me. This isn’t the 32 year old Mo anymore.

      • Jericho Spade

        Then have him get out of the jam and have robertson pitch the 9th. Problem solved.

        • Coolerking101

          Name me one team that has used their closer like that in recent memory? I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I’m just saying it never happens….and Girardi is a play it safe kind of guy. You can’t expect him to think/act out of the box like that. That’s not the kind of manager he is.

          • Pasqua

            Funny thing is, that’s not playing it safe. It’s playing it traditionally. If Girardi was actually playing safe, Rivera’s in that game once Soriano botches the job, and then somebody like D-Rob is pitching the 9th with little-to-no pressure.

  • ryanthe13th

    This is silly. Soriano coming in a 4-0 game doesn’t deserve this type on criticism. It boils down to the guys out of the bullpen just not getting it done. Tough loss, let’s hope Garcia and Colon show up tomorrow ready to go.

  • Pat D

    That’s a boring-ass roller coaster.

    It also sucks major ass that it even exists.

    I’d like to smack Girardi around for this one. Just because this is a game that shouldn’t have been lost.

  • Rey22

    9 out of 10 times we win this game. We’ll get em tomorrow.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Regarding the bullpen usage, I can understand why Girardi didn’t want Robertson to face Morneau and Jim Thome. This is his first week with a shinny new bullpen and it’ll take some time to get used to. I hope Girardi doesn’t Torre Rafael Soriano, because that would make a bad move even worse. What I find even more perplexing is why can’t they do better than Ayala? I mean, I hated Sergio, but I’d much rather have Sergio than Ayala. While it’s easy to place the blame on Girardi, Rafael Soriano needs to hold a four run lead despite pitching the night before. He’s one of the better relievers in baseball, and this blow up is on him. Should Sabathia have gone deeper?

    On to the main part of the game

    Positives: Jeter showed signs of life, Sabathia was huge (though it was for naught), Teixeira hitting in April is huge, Alex still looked good, and Andruw Jones contributed in a meaningful way.

    Negatives: The bullpen both usage and the performance and same old Granderson versus lefties?

    • jsbrendog

      no onn granderson. he drove two balls well but just right at fielders.

  • Jenny

    Atleast we’re not 0-4 like the Sox or 1-4 like the reining world champs.

  • J. Scott

    Soriano comes in and walks the planet, and this was somehow vaguely predictable. Well, maybe it was, but not by me. Won’t blame Girardi because Soriano couldn’t throw strikes.

    • Ray the Anti-Handle

      No one said it was predictable. Some just didn’t like the decision to go with Soriano given the situation, regardless of whether he pitched well or not.

      • bonestock94

        I don’t get the problem with pitching him 2 consecutive days. As for the velocity, Soriano himself said he doesn’t pick up steam until May. 0 blame on Girardi here, Soriano failed and that’s that. Bringing a really good reliever with a 4 run lead is bringing a gun to a knife fight, it should just result in a drama free inning.

        • Ray the Anti-Handle

          It’s not just pitching him on two consecutive days. For me, it was more of a combination of things (see my reply to ryanthe13th below). I also didn’t mention velocity, so don’t see how that’s relevant.

          It wasn’t an awful decision, just one that was a bit perplexing to me given the circumstances.

          I will, however, argue that Girardi isn’t blameless. He did leave Soriano in the game until he walked three batters and threw 32 pitches.

          • bonestock94

            Velocity was brought up in the article up top. Your points are fair enough, although I’m completely indifferent on using robertson vs soriano there.

      • ryanthe13th

        What situation? This isn’t like when Torre brought Tom Gordon into a 19-8 playoff game. Four runs is not impossible. Soriano is one of the best reporters in the game and just didn’t have it. if you’re going to get on Joe get on him for not recognizing Logan sucks and last year was probably a fluke.

        • Ray the Anti-Handle

          Situation: early in the season, Soriano pitched the day before, D-Rob hasn’t pitched since Saturday (and apparently already warmed up), D-Rob is more than capable of holding a 4-run lead

          I am in no way arguing that the Soriano isn’t a good pitcher. And again, I am not blaming Girardi for Soriano’s failure. I’m questioning his decision to use Soriano over Robertson in the first place, regardless of the outcome. We shouldn’t conflate the two.

          It was an opportunity to rest one of your best relievers (with no off day until next Monday) while giving much needed work to another one of your good relievers. It’s a long season. No reason why Soriano needed to come into a 4-run game when there’s a viable option available.

          • Cult of Basebaal

            No, no, no.

            You see, Robertson’s a 7th *or* a 9th inning guy, but not an 8th; whereas Soriano is *only* an 8th, even though last year he was a 9th.

            Make sense now?

            Don’t worry, it’s all in the binder …

            • Drew

              +15 for you

  • radnom


    Brett Gardner will finish the season in AAA, but Andruw Jones will finish in the top 10 of the AL MVP race.

    Kidding of course……or am I?

  • bonestock94

    Man, I left to go to the gym in the 6th and came back for a shitty surprise. Pretty shocking. Oh well, 157 to go.

  • jorge brosada

    the sooner Logan gets DFA’d, the better.

    Please get well soon Pedro

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    What was with Swisher’s slide on that fateful double? That was dumb.

    • Jenny

      Yup. Swisher stays on his feet and keeps the ball in front of him the 4th run (Mauer and his bum knee) doesn’t score and the Yanks win the game.

      But noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo……

  • Jenny

    The photograph at top of this post if telling.

    Jeter and ARod are incredulous, while Tex can’t even look at Soriano.

  • RobC

    One has to wonder of the warm up and not pitch effects on Robertson. I once spoke to an MLB team doctor how dislikes it saying they do not consider how often the “dry hump” the relievers when counting pitches thrown or IP.
    Notice they do not do that to Mo.

  • Monteroisdinero

    I know Swish is a good hitter and a great guy and has good stats in RF but I hate the guy coming in on balls that get past him for an extra base or two. I would feel much better if we had Golson (who everybody loves to hate) and his speed and arm to come in in the 8th/9th when we are up. He would have caught that ball easily.

    Logan is an adventure every time out with his control.

    Jeter strikes out on a high fastball to end the game. Thank God it wasn’t Gardy or we would have to have another thread on why he can’t catch up to the high fastball. Also, Jeter swung on an inside ball (3) when the count was 2-0. Take a strike Captain. You have no HR power and Swish is on deck.

  • Buck

    I find Soriano’s disappearance act disturbing and a little gutless. Does anyone else think he looks bored or uninterested out on the mound?

    • Monteroisdinero

      I just think that is the way he is-same when with tampa. Narrow range of emotion but he obviously is an internalizer because it bothered him enough to skip out on his teammates and the press.

    • Pasqua

      You know who looks bored on the mound? Mariano Rivera. He’s done alright for himself. I wouldn’t interpret Soriano’s demeanor on the mound…but the skipping out thing? That’s not going to fly here, and I’d be willing to bet that somebody will tell him that.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Sori leaving early and not speaking (in Spanish) to the press is poor form considering the guy has been in plenty of much higher-pressure situations before. He was pissed-not only at his performance but also that he didn’t have a strike 3 called and that a bloop double in front of his Rf’er was misplayed into 3 rbi’s. Let’s face it -in Tampa the post game grilling was just a wee bit less intense.

  • paul

    that is one of those games that just pisses ya off for a bit…total control for 7 innings and then implosion! i would have let cc go one more inning, esp with 7,8,9 coming up. then go to bullpen if he gets in trouble…head scratcher and frustrating, they better bounce back tonight…


    C.C. struggled with location all night, it was obvious the strike zone was very tight. It was a poor decision to bring in a pitcher who relies on the corners when the corners aren’t there. Leaving him in to walk in a run is the onion icing on the cake.

  • steve s

    Great write-up Mike plus you coined a great new nickname for Girardi: Monkey Cookbook (or MC for short).

  • jsbrendog

    there was nowhere even close to 40,000 ppl there last night. i was there and the prmotion for the can cozy said first 18,000 people. my friend showed up after the first inning and had 3 cause they just were throwing them at people. couldn’t have been more than 20-25 thou in actual attendance IF that

    but i understand why, it was effin windy and cold

  • Camilo Gerardo

    if soriano want to pitch for us next year, I’d have him start throwing sooner, no?

  • Camilo Gerardo

    i went out after the top of the 7th. sorry guys. blame it on me

  • Jiffy

    If you want to win that game ensuring a tie in the series I guess I can see using soriano there (don’t really get it, but I guess I can see it). What I don’t get is why you pull D-Rob so quickly. Especially since the offense disappeared and Joba wasnt available.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    One thing about Soriano though, he’s gotta learn to face the music when he doesn’t do the job or he’s gonmna get crucified here. He ducked out without speaking to reporters. Man up, face the cameras and admit you didn’t do your job tonight. It happens

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    All thoise jumping on Logan so quick. He started off slowly last year too and then he was terrific from late May on. Lets not call for his release after 5 games.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Can someone please tell Swish to not slide other batter’s singles into doubles and doubles into triples? Hate that. Only slide if the ball is foul and you can catch an onion ring or two.

  • Yank the Frank

    I think Joe wanted to see what he had in Soriano on back to back days and thought a 4 run lead was enough of a cushion. If Soriano does what he is suppose to do we don’t have a problem. Obviously it didn’t work out.
    We are going to need a lot of runs today. I don’t hold out much hope for a Garcia/Colon combo and a short bullpen.

  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    My biggest issue with Joe was how he left Soriano in there. If he wanted to test him on back to back days (why? who knows) it’s one thing, but it was pretty clear early that Soriano didn’t have much. Everything was up, shoulder was flying open, etc. If that’s the case, why do you let him face a top 5 player in Mauer with the bases loaded? He’s actually lucky that Mauer walked and didn’t deposit a high fast ball into the corner or out of the park.

    The “he’s my 8th inning guy” line is weak too.

  • Donny

    Another high priced middle reliever getting his sh!t blown up.


    Kei Igawa coulda done that. Part of me hopes Soriano get totally wrecked this year so Cashman can shove it in the face of Hal or whoever interfered with his business, “Look you a$$hole, thats why you don’t pay middle relievers $150 fucking million dollars! Now stay outta my SHIT!”

    Rant over.

    • bonestock94

      Every pitcher gets wrecked occasionally, even the Roy Halladays of the world. Don’t blow a load over the 5th game out of 162.

      Praying that Soriano gets hammered is praying that the Yankees lose. That’s dumb, they’re almost guaranteed a playoff slot and once they’re in anything can happen. I’ll pray that everything works like a well oiled machine so they can get their shot at #28.

  • J. Scott

    People now complaining about Swisher’s play in the 8th? Spare me. We do remember that was a 3-2 pitch…right? Everybody running as soon as Robertson goes into his wind-up? Right? It’s the nature of these “Dead Zone” bloops that the outfielder doesn’t realize he’s not gonna catch it until the very last instant. Under the circumstances the ball only got away about 5 feet. The bases were gonna clear on that once it hit the ground any which way.