Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire objected to Joe Girardi's pitching...

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire objected to Joe Girardi's pitching change tactics in Wednesday night's Yankees win. Credit: AP, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - Twins manager Ron Gardenhire objected to Joe Girardi's tactic immediately after Wednesday night's game, and before last night's contest, Girardi dismissed his complaint. "It's within the rules," he said.

Gardenhire was upset because Girardi sent Andy Pettitte to the mound for the bottom of the ninth inning when there was little chance - no chance, in Gardenhire's opinion - the lefty was going to throw a pitch.

It was a stall tactic, Girardi readily admitted before last night's game, to get Mariano Rivera ready.

The maneuver was necessary because of the suddenness with which the situation had changed. The Yankees took a 3-2 lead on Nick Swisher's two-out homer in the top of the ninth before Mark Teixeira was thrown out trying to stretch his line-drive single into the rightfield corner into a double.

Rivera wasn't quite ready, so Pettitte took the mound and threw his warmup pitches, actually thinking it was possible he'd face lefthanded-hitting Justin Morneau, who was due up first.

"Joe had told me that Mo needed some time to get ready to go out there," said Pettitte, who had thrown only 94 pitches but had just experienced a stressful eighth inning. "I didn't know how much time, so I was trying to get ready to face Morneau. I didn't know if he was going to come and get me or not. He just said Mariano wasn't quite ready. So I threw all my warmup pitches, and I see Cervi come out and stall a little bit more [and thought] I guess he must be close.''

Pettitte said he was fairly gassed at that point. The Twins had put runners on first and third with none out in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth, and Pettitte had gotten out of it, inducing Joe Mauer to hit into a double play.

"I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't getting tired," Pettitte said. "I used a lot of energy in the eighth to get through that. It was pretty emotional."

Rivera wound up pitching a 1-2-3 ninth, getting three ground balls for his 10th save.

Girardi said if Rivera hadn't been ready for whatever reason, Pettitte would have faced Morneau. But Rivera was ready, and Girardi came to the mound to make the change.

All of which left Gardenhire peeved. "Kind of tired, to tell you the truth," he said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Don't normally get that long between innings. You know what's going on there. That's a situation Major League Baseball needs to take care of when stuff like that happens. If you don't have a guy ready in the bullpen, if your starter goes out there, he should have to face a hitter."

Girardi shrugged. "I have that option to send the starter out there to get my closer ready," he said. "I wasn't going to warm him up if we weren't going to use him. It's within the rules and I played within the rules."

Girardi said the rule should stay as it is. "There are times you have to protect your guys," he said.

He explained that given that Rivera had saved the continuation of the suspended game earlier Wednesday, he didn't want the closer to start warming up and not use him.

"It's a different story if he didn't pitch three hours before, but that's not the case," Girardi said. "Whatever I did was within the grounds of what I'm allowed to do."

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