Joe Girardi is a good manager; that much should be clear by now.
Just three days after receiving heavy boos from the home crowd at Yankee Stadium, Girardi guided his team to a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians to advance to the American League Championship Series. Any doubts about Girardi’s managerial abilities should be gone at this point.
The Yankees pitching was the difference maker in game five of a hard-fought American League Divisional Series. Starter CC Sabathia lasted 4.2 innings while only allowing two runs on five hits. Relievers David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman combined for 4.2 innings of shutout, no-hit baseball against the best team in the league.
Yankees fans will have to search far and wide to find a way to criticize Girardi following Wednesday's win.
Girardi was faced with heavy criticism after failing to challenge a hit by pitch that clearly hit the bat of Indians pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall in game two of the series. The Yankees had an 8-3 lead at the time, but the hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Indians. Shortstop Francisco Lindor decided to clear the bases with a grand slam on the next at bat and the Indians eventually came back to win the game and take a 2-0 series lead.
Many Yankees fans and media personalities questioned Girardi’s decision making with some even calling for the skipper to be fired after the season.
Maybe they need a reminder of what Girardi has done since he took over the Bronx Bombers in 2008.
The Yankees won their 27th World Series championship under Girardi in 2009 and have made the playoffs six times. They have won three AL East titles with Girardi at the helm. This year’s ALCS will be his fourth with the team. Girardi’s 21 playoff wins are fourth all-time among Yankees managers. In a town where winning is expected, he has certainly provided his fair share of that.
Those questioning Girardi’s managerial skills can take a look at last night’s game for some reassurance. Sabathia had not given up a run until the Indians scored two in the fifth inning. Recognizing the crucial situation they were in, Girardi immediately pulled Sabathia in favor of Robertson, who only allowed one baserunner in 2.2 innings.
The only time Yankees fans had any reason to worry was when Aroldis Chapman, who has had trouble finishing games this season, was left in the game in the 9th inning. Everything worked out, however, and Chapman retired the side.
Perhaps Yankees fans reacted too harshly following the game two loss, and who could blame them? After not being projected as a postseason team, the Yankees had the first Wild Card spot locked up for most of the season. Fans didn’t want to see their team eliminated any earlier than necessary. So when Girardi messed up in game two, they panicked. And in a league where winning back-to-back AL East titles can get John Farrell fired, you never know what to expect when it comes to managers.
For a team as accustomed to winning as the Yankees, eight years without a championship feels like a lifetime, but Girardi owned up to his mistake and they’re moving on to the next round with a shot at a title.
No one can be sure what the ALCS brings, but one thing is certain: Joe Girardi knows how to win and has done a lot of it in New York. Firing him for one mistake would’ve been unfair, but he has more than made up for it with a comeback win over the league’s best team.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.