Joe Girardi has finally explained what he was thinking during Friday night’s extra-innings loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the ALDS. The big question, why he did not challenge a critical call in the sixth inning?
The Yankees head coach made two very questionable calls in the sixth inning prior to Francisco Lindor hitting a grand slam to erase the Yankees’ lead from 8-3 to 8-7. Why would he pull starter CC Sabathia out of the game after the pitcher got one out and allowed a hit? Then even more concerning was the coach’s non-challenge.
Chad Green had entered the game as reliever in the bottom of the sixth with one on and one out. He got a fly out, allowed a double, and then in a game changing moment, the umpires awarded Lonnie Chisenhall first base for a hit by pitch. When the play was replayed it appeared to show that the pitch may have tipped off Chisenhall’s bat rather than his hand:
Chisenhall walked because of the hit by pitch, loaded the bases with two outs, and Lindor came up to the plate and hit the grand slam that sank the Yankees and changed the game.
The Yankees could have and should have challenged the hit by pitch ruling. If Girardi had seen the replay he’d seen the ball hit off Chisenhall’s bat, it could have been ruled as an inning-ending caught foul tip. A game changer.
Girardi said the following about the decision not to challenge.
“There was nothing that told us he was not hit on the pitch,” Girardi said after the game. “By the time we got the super slow-motion we were probably beyond a minute. It was way too late. They tell us we have the 30 seconds. They will take longer in replay.”
He also said that beyond there being inconclusive evidence, he didn’t want to interrupt his pitcher.
“And probably being a catcher, my thought is I never want to break a pitcher’s rhythm. That’s how I think about it. There was nothing that said he wasn’t hit.”
New York fans and critics say it was worth challenging anyhow.