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Joe Girardi ’s mystifying ‘low ’ point as Yankees manager

#Joe Girardi ’s mystifying ‘low ’ point as Yankees manager

June 8, 2020 | 9:44am

As a player, Joe Girardi delivered one of the biggest hits in Yankees history. As manager, he committed one of team ’s biggest postseason mistakes.

The 2017 Yankees were back in the ALDS for the first time in five years. The up-and-coming roster — led by rookie Aaron Judge — was on track to tie the series in Cleveland, leading 8-3 in the sixth inning of Game 2. With two outs and an 0-2 count, reliever Chad Green was ruled to have hit Lonnie Chisenhall in the hand with a pitch, loading the bases. Instant replay showed the ball hitting the knob of Chisenhall ’s bat, before finding Gary Sanchez ’s glove.

Girardi had 30 seconds to issue a challenge. He ’d successfully used one earlier in the game. He inexplicably opted not to use another during a clear potential turning point.

“There was nothing that told us that he was not hit on the pitch,” Girardi said afterward. “By the time we got the super slo-mo, we are beyond a minute. It was way too late.”

The decision proved disastrous one batter later, when All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor delivered a grand slam to bring the Indians within one. Jay Bruce tied the game with a solo homer in the eighth and Cleveland claimed a 9-8 win — and 2-0 series lead — after Yan Gomes ’ walk-off single in the 13th.

Joe GirardiJoe GirardiRobert Sabo

It wasn ’t until the next day that Girardi accepted responsibility.

“I screwed up,” Girardi said. “It ’s a hard day for me, but I ’ve got to move forward…..I feel horrible. Does it change the complexion of the game? Sure, it could have. … It ’s a tough loss, a tough situation.”

The Yankees improbably won the following three games, including a deciding Game 5 in Cleveland, to get Girardi off the hook.

“I was about as low as I could be as a baseball (person),” Girardi said after advancing to the ALCS. “I ’ve been carrying this burden for five or six days. It ’s hard….What those guys did for me, I ’ll never forget it.”

The Yankees then fell one win shy of the World Series, losing to the eventual — and now-tainted — champion Astros. Five days after being eliminated from the playoffs, the Yankees announced Girardi would not return after 10 seasons as manager.

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